Well, it’s been quite some time that a big pile of money has been looking for a new home!
Last week at the press conference of the Hospices de Beaune, a fellow ‘writer’ asked me if I’d heard about a billion euro transaction to buy Louis Jadot and then they jinked and said ‘or maybe Bouchard Père!‘ – Well, what could I do with that?
Then came this yesterday – no links, no other information, and at least as far as Google was concerned, nothing to corroborate. So, still nothing that I was going to go out on a limb to publish. But today, Bourgogne Aujourd’hui and Wine Spectator had the press release:
“François Pinault’s Artémis Domaines—the owner of Bordeaux’s Château Latour, Burgundy’s Clos de Tart and Napa’s Domaine Eisele Vineyard—is buying a majority stake in Maisons & Domaines Henriot, which owns Bouchard Père & Fils in Burgundy, William Fèvre in Chablis, Maison Henriot in Champagne and Beaux Frères in Oregon. The Henriot family will become minority shareholders in the combined company.”
The amount of money involved in this transaction has not been disclosed but the magic billion is on many peoples’ lips.
But let’s turn the clock back to 1995 when the Henriot family from Champagne bought Bouchard Père for an estimated, at the time, $50 million. This was a time when Bouchard was in the doldrums – both the company and their wines – losing money despite having 90 hectares of their own vines – today it’s more like 130 hectares – oh and not to forget their cellar of more than 6 million bottles came with the sale. Three years later, Henriot added Domaine William Fevre in Chablis to their family of wineries. Since the purchase of William Fevre, a whole generation of wine-writers have seen Fevre and Bouchard as domaines joined at the hip.
And the nice little earner?
With a little under 0.9 of a hectare, Bouchard Père is the third largest owner of Montrachet. In the current climate of (Burgundy) vineyard valuations, those vines alone have, possibly, a value of 150-200 million Euros. With that context, a billion Euros might just seem a little cheap don’t you think? I think you can safely expect that the price of (their) Beaune will be on the up!
As an (obvious) addendum to the Artemis/Henriot announcement, on this same day, came the announcement that the previous head of Bouchard Père – Thomas Seiter – was taking on the position of President at Louis Jadot in Beaune, replacing (the retiring) Pierre-Henry Gagey, whose son, Thibault Gagey, will be taking on the role of Jadot’s ‘Directeur-Générale.’