Jack Ma, China's second richest person and founder of multi-billion dollar online retailer Alibaba, has become the latest Chinese investor to buy a Bordeaux wine estate with Château de Sours.
China’s Alibaba founder buys Bordeaux château spanning 80 hectares
Jack Ma’s personal fortune estimated at US$21.5bn
Investor plans to create ‘mini Versailles’ – Bordeaux source tells Decanter.com
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has completed the purchase of Château de Sours in Bordeaux, prodcuer of red, white and rosé wines, Decanter.com can confirm.A price was not disclosed.
Ma joins a growing list of Chinese investors in Bordeaux and becomes one of the highest profile château buyers in the French wine region. His personal fortune is estimated at US$21.5bn, according to Forbes, having seen online retail business Alibaba rise rapidly in China and overseas.
According to sources in Bordeaux, Château de Sours is currently undergoing huge renovations to its facade, courtyard and garden, with a full excavation programme already underway of the limestone cellars behind the estate, which date back to 1785.
Ma plans to create ‘mini Versailles’ in Entre Deux Mers – source
There are plans to turn these cellars, which resemble those found in St-Emilion but have not been used in recent years due to the high cost of stabilising them, into a barrel storage centre and wine museum.
The works are being carried out by the same architectural firm as worked on Château Cheval Blanc, and are expected to be completed by this summer, although have been undertaken without final planning permission agreement.
The source in Bordeaux, who did not wish to be named, said that Ma wishes to create ‘a mini Versailles in Entre deux Mers’.
Ma friends with fellow Chinese château owner Zhao Wei
Ma, who is good friends with fellow Chinese owner Zhao Wei, is reportedly planning a central administration centre for their Bordeaux assets. This will run their individually-owned properties together so as to leverage economies of scale. The group are also reportedly planning to buy estates in California, Italy, New Zealand and Australia.
‘The scale and ambition of these plans is huge,’ said the source.
Ex-owner Martin Krajewski to remain at Château de Sours, plans new estate purchase
Previous owner Martin Krajewski has confirmed the sale to Decanter.com, and confirmed that he will remain as consultant for the estate ‘for the foreseeable future’, in charge of production and marketing.
He will keep Clos Cantenac in St-Emilion entirely within family hands, with his daughter Charlotte joining the team. Krajewski also owns ARISTEA wines in South Africa where he is currently in his second harvest, and is building a house in Constantia. Krajewski also owns a distillery in Oslo, the first privately owned distillery in Norway since 1927, where he is currently producing a gin, an aquavit and bitters.
A new château purchase in a prestigious Bordeaux appellation is also planned.
Alibaba success story
Jack Ma is the owner of Alibaba in China, the most successful commerce site in the country and listed on the New York stock exchange since 2014.
He is reportedly also looking to buy a Bordeaux negociant.
Extra reporting/editing by Chris Mercer