Artémis Domaines, the owner of Château Latour, said that having received ‘several offers’ it had finally entered into ‘exclusive negotiations’ with fellow Bordeaux first growth owner Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite (DBR Lafite).
DBR Lafite was chosen because it is a family-owned company and has been a ‘symbol of excellence in French winemaking for over 150 years’, Artémis Domaines said.
Saskia de Rothschild, CEO of DBR Lafite, said, ‘We would be truly honoured to write a new chapter in the history of Domaine William Fèvre whose iconic terroir, with Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Chablis Village plots, and a history of producing great white wines for generations, together with a strong investment in sustainable development, convinced us to continue our winemaking story towards this more northern region.
‘Wines from the Chablis vineyards are magical: we really hope we can soon learn from this terroir and ecosystem whose development we have admired over the recent years and whose vigneron approach and family style we love.’
William Fèvre joined the Artémis portfolio in September last year after the company, owned by François Pinault and family, merged its wine assets with those of the Henriot family. The Pinault family took a majority stake in the new entity, which retained the Artémis name.
The deal with Maisons & Domaines Henriot also brought Burgundy producer Bouchard Père et Fils into the Artémis stable, as well as Maison Henriot in Champagne and Beaux-Frères in Oregon – adding to the company’s international group of fine wine estates.
At the time, François Pinault said, ‘The merger of Maisons & Domaines Henriot and Artémis Domaines is a wonderful opportunity to bring together the treasures of our wine heritage under the same banner.’
However, less than a year later and the group is seeking to offload one of the key estates from its merger.
William Fèvre is one of the larger producers in the northern Burgundian appellation of Chablis, with 78 hectares (ha) of vineyards, 15.9ha of which are classified Premier Cru and 15.2ha as Grand Cru.
As well as estates in Chile (Viña Los Vascos), Argentina (Bodegas CARO) and China (Domaine de Long Dai), DBR Lafite’s French holdings include five estates in Bordeaux and one in the Languedoc; Domaine d’Aussières.
Except for Château Rieussec in Sauternes, it is a portfolio heavily focused on red wines. Acquiring a prestigious Burgundian white wine estate was, therefore, likely a tempting proposition for DBR Lafite.
The transaction has not yet been finalised and would be subject to regulatory approvals.