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Francois Pinault buys Chateau Grillet

French billionaire Francois Pinault, through his group Artemis, has bought Chateau Grillet, the monopole estate in the Rhone Valley that forms its own wine-growing AOC.

Photo: Jason Yapp

Pinault, who owns Chateau Latour in Pauillac and Domaine d’Eugenie in Burgundy, alongside auction house Christie’s and Rennes football club, bought the estate from Isabelle Baratin-Canet, whose family (originally Neyret-Gachet with name changes through marriage) has owned Chateau Grillet since 1830.

Grillet covers just 3.5ha of vines, and is one of the only appellations in France with its wine coming from a single estate.

Next door to the Condrieu AOC, its wine comes from solely from the Viognier grape, aged for up to two years in oak barrels, and production is between 10,000 and 13,000 bottles per year.

The wines are highly priced, starting at around £65 per bottle, and although they suffered from some hit-and-miss vintages in the 1990s, are widely acknowledged to have regained their stature in recent years, particularly since renowned Bordeaux consultant Denis Dubourdieu was employed in 2001.

‘The terroir is exceptional, and in the best years Grillet is a strong contender for the best white wine in the Rhone Valley,’ Jason Yapp, of Yapp brothers, long-time stockists of the wine in the UK, told Decanter.com.

‘A lot of people have coveted this estate, and I am surprised that one of the Rhone elite haven’t carried it off.’

‘It’s a magical place,’ Dubordieu said, ‘with a taste profile very different from Condrieu – more like a great Chardonnay from the Cote d’Or. It is truly one of the great white wines of France.’

It is expected that Latour managing director Frederic Engerer will work as director of the new estate, in an extension of his role at Pinault’s existing wine estates.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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