Bordeaux Chateau Quinault has been sold to billionaires Bernard Arnault and Albert Frère.
Arnault, head of luxury goods empire LVMH, and his long-time associate Frère have added the 15.6ha St Emilion property to a portfolio which includes Chateau Cheval Blanc and the neighbouring Chateau La Tour du Pin.
While these properties are owned personally by the pair, Arnault also controls Chateau d’Yquem which is part of LVMH.
The sale, officially signed today, 4 September, is understood to have been finalised in the last two months. While the price has not been disclosed, sources in Bordeaux suggest it would have gone for €8-10m.
Quinault’s former owner, Alain Raynaud, who will stay on as a consultant, said he did not have the means to go on improving Quinault.
‘I have spent 11 years improving this château but I do not have the necessary financial means to take it to the next level, to have it classified [under the St Emilion classification system]. I have handed it over to those who do.’
He also said that the frost in 2002, the heat wave in 2003 and the hail in 2004 had made life difficult, despite the fact his wines now retail for about €25 a bottle.
Raynaud – described by Stephen Brook in The Complete Bordeaux as ‘a media-savvy confidant of Robert Parker’ – rescued the château, in the heart of the town of Libourne, from developers by buying it in 1997.
Under his ownership Quinault gained a reputation for producing impressive wines, from a mid range property.
The new director of Quinault, Pierre-Olivier Clouet, said for the two businessmen it was a new challenge, and ‘an act of heritage’ that would increase their holdings in Bordeaux.
Arnault, the richest man in France, bought Cheval Blanc with Frère in 1998 for a reported €155m.
Frère, a Belgian financier whose net worth is estimated at about €3bn, owns the other 50% of Cheval Blanc, via his Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille (CNP). He sold his stakes in chateaux L’Evangile (Pomerol) and Rieussec (Sauternes) last year
Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux