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Chateau Loudenne’s new Chinese owners planning luxury hotel

The Moutai Group, owners of Chateau Loudenne in Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc since April 2013, are planning to open a luxury hotel on the property.

Zhong Huaili, president of Chateau Loudenne, spent two years looking at over 30 estates before deciding on the purchase of Loudenne, and now hopes to open it to Chinese visitors.

‘We plan to sell around 50% of production in China, with the rest remaining in traditional markets,’ Huaili told Decanter.com, speaking at an evening at the chateau during Vinexpo.

‘We have television advertising planned, and are already well known for our Moutai drink. We expect to receive a high number of Chinese tourists in the future, as well as making this a reward destination for our staff back in China. This is to be our showcase in Europe.’

The group has 30 wine and spirit shops across China, and plans to open 100 by the end of 2013. The company, which is based in the Guizhou Province and has a turnover of €4.4 billion, also owns vineyards in Changli in the Hebei Province, and is a significant producer of Chinese alcohols such as baijo.

Chateua Loudenne is its first vineyard purchase outside of China, contrary to reports that it had bought a Fronsac estate previously.

Yang Yajie, director of administration, said the group is now planning to import wines from not just France but Italy, Canada, Chile and California, with the potential of buying vineyards in other regions also, not just Bordeaux.

‘For now we are concentrating on establishing a successful base in Chateau Loudenne. Perhaps once we have more experience here, we would consider buying other estates. But we also aim to import Moutai into France, and other countries outside of China.’

Chateau Loudenne will now have a team of 10 Chinese sales and tourism staff, in addition to the French staff who will remain in charge of winemaking.

A new tourism manager, Sui Zhenglai, will oversee the development of a luxury hotel replacing the existing guest house, if permits are granted. The aim is to open 22 bedrooms, with restaurant, pool and spa, with 14 smaller chalets for VIP clients.

It is estimated Moutai bought Chateau Loudenne from the Lafragette family for around €20 million. They now plan to invest a further €5 million in upgrading the production facilities and building a new winery, plus €2 million in wine tourism facilities.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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