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Cos d’Estournel buys Chateau Montelena

Michel Reybier, the owner of Bordeaux second growth chateau Cos d’Estournel, has purchased iconic Napa estate Chateau Montelena for an undisclosed sum, it was announced today.

The deal, which was reached with owners Jim and Bo Barrett, has been agreed although final authorisation from the US authorities is not expected until October this year.

Jean-Guillaume Prats, general manager at Cos d’Estournel, would neither confirm nor deny whether the sum of US$110m had been paid for the estate, in north Calistoga.

‘It’s the kind of investment that would be similar to buying a top Bordeaux estate,’ Prats told decanter.com.

Prats said the two winemaking teams would ‘work alongside’ each other in the near future.

An executive committee, made up of Montelena winemaker Bo Barrett, managing director Greg Ralston, and the winemaker at Cos d’Estournel Dominique Arangoits, with Prats as president, will oversee the next vintage.

Prats would not comment further on future plans for the Montelena estate although he did add that the Bordeaux team would concentrate on the existing wines and had no future projects.

The deal is the third such high-profile purchase in California following the sales of Duckhorn and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 2007.

Chateau Montelena, founded in 1882 but revived as a wine estate by Jim Barrett in 1972 following a decline in winemaking since prohibition, made its name by winning the white wine section of famous Judgement of Paris wine competition in 1976. Organised by Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier, the tasting pitted top Californian wines against their French counterparts. The Californian wines won each category, sealing the reputation of estates such as Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena.

Reybier, who made his fortune in French sausage company Justin Bridou and Aoste hams, currently owns three luxury hotels including Geneva’s La Réserve. As well as owning Cos d’Estournel he is the chairman of petroleum company Pebercan and Saint Tropez Airport Services. His current wealth is estimated at €400-500m.

Written by Oliver Styles

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