The Macau businessman who has bought Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin is definitely not in it for the money, his neighbour Eric Rousseau says.
Rousseau (pictured), owner of Domaine Armand Rousseau in Gevrey-Chambertin, is leasing Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin’s two hectares of vines from casino executive Louis Ng.
Ng caused a storm of protest when it came out that it was he who had bought the chateau last year from the Masson family, after the death of owner Elisabeth Masson.
One member of Burgundy’s wine producing community suggested it was ‘a despoliation’; the National Front also expressed an opinion.
Rousseau told Decanter.com he had faith in Ng’s desire to revitalise the moribund estate.
‘There are vines missing and pruning has been neglected; we will need to replant. There’s a lot of work to do.’
The house, parts of which date from the 12th century, is also in poor condition, Rousseau said. Architects have been appointed for a restoration which will start in two years.
The winemaker – Domaine Armand Rousseau owns some 14ha of vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey-Saint-Denis – insists Ng is ‘not concerned with how much money he is going to make’.
‘He’s a good guy. He’s not here just because there’s money – he genuinely loves Burgundy.’
As part of the contract with Rousseau, Ng will take six barrels or around 1,500 bottles a year, out of a total of 15 barrels.
As for the €8m which Ng paid for the property, a good deal more than the syndicate of Burgundy producers led by Jean-Michel Guillon could produce, and which so outraged local commentators who complained it would increase inheritance taxes in the region, Rousseau shrugged his shoulders.
‘What can you do? The family inherited a huge, run down old estate, and most of them had their own debts to pay. They would have had to pay substantial taxes on the property, and they decided to sell.
‘It could have been very different. Louis Ng is not just a businessman. He’s not going to take the entire production of wine back to Macau.’
Rousseau also said the negative press coverage might spur the government on to change inheritance taxes to make it easier for owners to keep land, and ‘not have to sell something that has been in the family for centuries’.
Written by Adam Lechmere