The Tesseron family has sold Château Lafon-Rochet, the St-Estèphe fourth growth, to French-Swiss real-estate investor Jacky Lorenzetti in a deal that was finalised in the first week of September.
It’s understood that Lorenzetti beat a number of other interested parties during a bidding process.
This is the fourth Médoc estate in his portfolio, alongside Château Pédesclaux in Pauillac, Lilian Ladouys in St-Estèphe and his 50% stake in Château d’Issan in Margaux.
Lorenzetti’s personal fortune was estimated at €700m by France’s Challenges magazine in its 2021 rich list. He is chairman of the family’s holding company, Ovalto, and is president of Paris rugby club Racing 92.
Emmanuel Cruse, the co-owner of Château d’Issan and general manager of Lorenzetti’s Bordeaux wine estates, said the possibility of buying Lafon-Rochet was too good to miss for the businessman.
‘It’s a great terroir,’ he said of the estate’s 41 hectares of vines. ‘You don’t have so many opportunities in St-Estèphe. When you have an opportunity [like] Lafon, you have to go for it.’
The Tesserons, of Cognac fame, had been owners of Lafon-Rochet since 1960. Basile Tesseron, the estate’s current director, will handle the 2021 harvest with his team. A handover is expected from around the end of October, with Cruse as general manager.
Lafon-Rochet’s vineyards (55% planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% to Merlot and 5% to Cabernet Franc) surround the Château in a large contiguous plot bordering Lilian Ladouys to the north, and a stone’s throw away from Cos d’Estournel and Château Cos Labory, plus Château Lafite Rothschild over the border in Pauillac.
Lafon-Rochet’s team, under the guidance of Basile Tesseron since 2007, has previously been credited with making significant improvements to the wine.
Tesseron has led the construction of two new cellars, overseen extensive replanting and created a biodiversity programme. He also changed the Lafon-Rochet blending profile, increasing the percentage of Merlot in the blend.
‘It’s great because they have improved the quality and now our challenge will be to try to make it even better,’ Cruse told Decanter.
Earlier this year, highly respected Left Bank consultant Eric Boissenot joined Lafon-Rochet’s existing consultant, Jean-Claude Berrouet – of Petrus fame – to help blend the 2020 vintage.
Lafon-Rochet 2020 earned top reviews after its en primeur release.
Cruse said it was too soon to discuss future plans in detail, but he said ‘it will be interesting to compare their points-of-view’ on Lafon-Rochet’s wines. He said he was particularly interested in focusing on the finesse, elegance and balance of the wine.
Additional reporting by Chris Mercer.