Well, it was too quiet today – 2021 part 2

Update 17.12.2021(16.12.2021)billn

Savigny Vergelesses looking towards Corton
Savigny Vergelesses today, looking towards Corton

I got quite a mailbag when I made my first post of (semi) unsubstantiated rumours and the peddling of idle chit-chat, so thought I’d update you on some of those, and add a few more, to finish this difficult viticultural year. Most of these deals are already done:

  • Domaine Lamarche / Comte Liger-Belair: From my last post, my highest category of ‘unconfirmed rumour’ has now, in part been confirmed: The ‘not La Grand Rue’ vines of Domaine Lamarche are with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair from the start of 2022. As for the purported €800 million transaction – well, all has gone quiet on that one – for now 🙂
  • Domaine Bernard Moreau / Domaine Benoit Moreau: I previously mentioned this split and whilst it is not ‘officially, official’ it seems that it is, official! I recently tasted with Benoit in his new cuverie. He got started with some 2020s that were contract purchases from friends – I tasted those – but his 2021s are in elevage and these are his first parcels from the family domaine with more to come. With a friend from Burgundy, he’s also invested in some parcels of Beaujolais which they are working biodynamically – a mix of Morgon and Chiroubles.
  • Domaine des Varoilles: Subscribers will already have seen my recent report on this domaine, newly named Domaine du Couvent. For those not in that loop, following the retirement of the Swiss part of the Varoilles ownership, it’s the Chéron family of Nuits St.Georges who has full control of the domaine which has been rolled into their own personal holdings – but one thing is missing, as you may have noted from the name-change. The Chérons decided that a 6-hectare monopole – even one that is a Gevrey 1er cru – would be too much for them to commercialise, so they have placed it with another domaine en-fermage. And which domaine I hear you ask(?) Domaine Prieuré-Roch – making that their third monopole, along with their Nuits Clos des Corvées and their Vosne Clos Goillotte.
  • Domaine des Chézeaux: Here’s a transaction that’s still under negotiation, so I won’t give you all the names just now; but given the death of the owner of all the des Chézeaux estate, the wider Mercier family have now decided to sell their holdings. They actually made no wine themselves but with 70% ownership of Griotte-Chambertin, plus Clos St.Denis, Chambertin, Chambolle-Charmes, Gevrey’s Lavaux and Cazetiers 1er crus plus plenty of villages Gevrey-Chambertin you can easily imagine a sale price in excess of 30 million – and I could be massively underplaying the final number! It seems that the proprietor of a well-known Côte de Nuits domaine (let’s call them A-b-C) has got an investor or two who will pay the asking price – which sounds like curtains for the existing metayeurs – let’s see. Interestingly, I actually got the name of the purchasing domaine when in conversation with someone in the London wine trade who began with ‘Did you hear that…?‘ – it seems that there are ‘leaks’ everywhere…
  • Lastly for today, Domaine Clos des Lambrays: have an additional 1.6 hectares of vines this year in the form of Vosne Romanée 1er Cru les Beaux Monts (0.45 ha), Nuits 1er Cru La Richemone (0.89 ha), Nuits 1er Cru Les Murgers (0.18 ha) and Nuits 1er Cru Les Cras (0.08 ha), bringing the domaine to 13.26 hectares of vines. The mention of La Richmone started the cogs whirring in my brain and after a little checking, it seems that these vines were previously leased to Domaine Perrot-Minot. So that will have been a sad loss for the other Morey domaine, though the produce of these vines will have only moved to a (new) cuverie about 50 metres from that of Perrot-Minot! Of course, Domaine des Lambrays (LVMH!) is not yet done; they are also owners of 0.52 ha parcel of Ruchottes-Chambertin which is currently rented to another producer. This officially comes back to the Lambrays domaine in 2031. I can only conjecture who is exploiting such a large parcel of Ruchottes – the vineyard is not much more than 3 hectares in total. Perhaps Fred Esmonin?

Anyway, enjoy…

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “Well, it was too quiet today – 2021 part 2”

  1. Mike de Lange17th December 2021 at 4:14 pmPermalinkReply

    Well Bill, thanks for the useful info but the Lamarche part of it really creams my corn! According to my sources, everyone who has an allocation chez Lamarche is sh*t out of luck, as L-M L-B’s investors in this undoubtedly dozens-of-million-euros venture (one shudders to think of the exact sum) apparently have their own plans with the new to be bottled wines at the château de Vosne-Romanée.

    More Côte d’Or ownership moving out of the region, indeed out of France altogether… Not a good development no matter how one looks at it! As for des Chezeaux, does this mean that domaine Ponsot will be stripped further of their crown jewels, after Laurent P. splitting them up a few years ago?

    • billn19th December 2021 at 11:39 amPermalinkReply

      That would be shame if you are talking about the 20/21 wines, Mike, but post-acquisition, they can clearly do whatever they want with their own production. By that I mean that if the 20s are not yet bottled when they take over in 2 more weeks – then the wines are just an asset of a business that they have taken over – so also theirs to do with, what they will.

      Re Ponsot – the Chézeaux wines anyway moved away from the domaine to LP’s new operation. The domaine wanted to concentrate on their domaine wines, so no changes for them. LP famously took the Mercier family to court when they wanted to exchange him for another metayeur – and won. In this case it’s going to be much harder for him as the whole thing is being sold to an existing producer. I think, at best, he might be able to retain a portion for a set amount of time but knowing him as we all do, he won’t be taking it lying down…

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