After years of rumour that Moët-Hennessy, part of the LVMH luxury goods group, was buying Château Minuty – and years of denial – the sale was officially announced on the final day of Wine Paris on Wednesday 15 February, creating a ripple of gossip, speculation and discussion around the fair.
Throughout France, and even globally, Minuty has long been seen as the ultimate expression of Provence rosé. It’s thanks to Minuty’s success that many producers outside of Provence have emulated its style.
Château Minuty is one of the 23 original cru classé estates in the 1955 classification. Today Minuty has 160ha of vines spread across the Saint-Tropez peninsula, the Côtes de Provence’s most expensive area – the average vineyard value is €100,000 (£90,000) per hectare, according to SAFER, an organisation which reports agricultural and viticultural land sales and prices. Since the 1990s, Minuty has also had a highly successful négociant business.
Minuty has belonged to the Farnet family since 1936, (Farnet-Matton since the 1960s). According to a press release, the agreement sees Moët-Hennessy acquiring a majority stake in Minuty, estimated to have cost between €350m and €450m (£312m-£400m), with the family remaining involved in running the estate. Current executives and descendants of the founder, Jean-Etienne and François Matton, will continue to manage the company.
LVMH’s exisiting Provence properties
Moët-Hennessy purchased the cru classé estate Château Galoupet (69ha) in 2019, followed by a majority share in Château d’Esclans and the Caves d’Esclans négociant business (including Whispering Angel), with them set to take over the remaining part of the business in January 2024. (Château d’Esclans also previously purchased neighbouring Domaine des Grands Esclans).
In January 2023 it was announced that Moët-Hennessy had purchased Jas d’Esclans, a cru classé estate adjoining Château d’Esclans. The purchase included the nearby Château de Vaucouleurs (24ha).
Jeany Cronk of Maison Mirabeau, a member of the administrative council of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), commented: ‘Clearly its [Moët-Hennessy] very considerable investment in the region is a huge vote of confidence for our rosés and their place in the future of wine consumption.’
Although official figures are rarely published, local estimates put production of Esclans’ Whispering Angel at around 14 million bottles, and Minuty’s M de Minuty at eight million bottles. Overall, Minuty’s sales exceed nine million bottles. Moët-Hennessy’s total Provence rosé sales, including estate wines, is likely to comfortably exceed 25 million bottles for the 2023 vintage. The entire appellation of Côtes de Provence produced 101 million bottles of rosé in 2021 .
The businesses purchased by Moët-Hennessy are not in direct competition with each other and will each be run independently, under the one parent company. Château d’Esclans and Caves d’Esclans have a vast distribution in the US market. Minuty is well established in France and Asia, where it has already been distributed by Moët-Hennessy for several years.
Eric Pasterino, president of the CIVP, is in favour of smaller producers grouping together to give value to their production and individuality, to introduce the concept of ‘grower rosé’ akin to grower Champagne. Cronk agrees, noting that ‘work needs to be done to ensure that a healthy balance is achieved between the power of the very big houses and smaller producers, as this diversity is an important aspect in the attractiveness of our wines in the eye of the consumer’.