It is not often that we have the freedom to openly speak about specific transactions that we are involved in – so when both buyer and seller give us permission it is a privilege to share some of our experiences.
On December 19th 2014 the sale of Chateaux de Birot was completed after negotiations since the early summer of 2014. It was announced to the press at a press conference at the chateau and then after via press releases that; “Bordeaux vineyard experts Vineyards-Bordeaux, Exclusive Affiliates to Christie’s International Real Estate sold Chateau de Birot, in Beguey, Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux, owned by the Fournier-Casteja family to Mr Miaolin Chen’s New Century Tourism Group, owner of 160 luxury hotels with 24,000 employees worldwide and headquartered in Hangzhou, China.”
Chateau de Birot is a Bordeaux vineyard of just over 34 hectares of which 25 ha are under vine with a further 12 hectares under fermage. It produces a wide range of marques including an excellent red wine as well as white, rose and a classic Cadillac sweet wine. The chateau is anchored by an 18th century mansion positioned in an elevated setting overlooking it vines and the city of Cadillac.
This is the fourth Bordeaux vineyard chateau estate sold to Chinese investors through Vineyards-Bordeaux during the calendar year of 2014 alone which has shown us that interest from China in Bordeaux vineyards remains confident even buoyant. That said, their chosen price point is typically still under €10 million Euros. New Century Toursim Group are a Chinese hospitality powerhouse and demanded very high standards of professional performance from us throughout the many phases of the transaction. This is something that we welcome and we developed a healthy respect for theirexacting standards and expectations for precise data, statements and information. As a general comment we see this as a good thing for the Bordeaux wine industry as companies such as New Century operate their vineyard with the same corporate culture as they do their 5 star hotels. It is also good for vineyard transaction professionals since opportunists and “middlemen” are quickly out of their depth with the intense pressure managing the myriad details over many months through to final signature.
The day of the signature was organized like clockwork and after 4 hours of finalizing the documents and signing each page it was a joy to see both buyer and seller relax. Arthur Fournier (pictured above right) will maintain his current role as an operations manager for the estate so there will be strong ongoing continuity for production. The new owner is planning to invest but their strategy will be steady and strategic as they seek to increase quality through investments both in the chai and in the vineyards.
It was understandably sad for Eric Fournier the former owner of Chateau de Birot. Birot has been a family home for many years since he and his brothers sold Chateau Canon the St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé. But in talking to him at the end of the day he seemed very comfortable that the chateau was passing to a good steward who will care for it well while he now will officially retire from winemaking and business. He was also delighted that his son will continue to manage the estate with its new owner.
The day was finished with a lively Christmas spirit and it was fun for both the press and those present alike to watch as Mr Fournier and Mr Chen sang French and Chinese songs with Li Lijuan from the MSB team. It is not every day that we get to watch a billionaire sing!