Another Bordeaux vineyard will soon come under Chinese ownership. It is not just any vineyard. Chateau Bellefont-Belcier is the first top-graded estate to accept an offer from a Chinese buyer – an unnamed industrialist.
A price of 20 million pounds is believed to have been agreed for the 13-hectare Saint-Emillion Grand Cru Classe estate which has been on the market for several years.
This is the 40th Bordeaux vineyard purchased by Chinese investors, says Joel Palous, managing director of viticulture consultancy, AIM Vineyards. Eighteen months ago, only five Bordeaux estates were owned by Chinese investors.
But interest in buying them has increased considerably. Other recently reported acquisitions include Chateau Millaud Montlabert, the 10th estate purchased by the Haichang Group, and the 12.5 hectare Chateau Lucas bought by Chinese architect Wencheng Li, owner of Wencheng Castle near Beijing. Other nationalities investing in Bordeaux include Australians and South Africans, says Matthew Hodder-Williams, a spokesman for global property consultancy Knight Frank, in south-west France.
There are few signs of Chinese investors venturing elsewhere in Europe. However, they may want to note that French viticulturists are investing in southern England – where award-winning sparkling wines are being produced. Fuelling French interest is the theories that global warming could make southern England more suitable for future sparkling white production than northern France. Consequently, Champagne houses are reportedly investigating Kent, Sussex and other southern English counties.
Global warming does not bode well for Bordeaux’s future wine production. An expert from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research warned last year that in the most pessimistic scenario the region would not be suitable for Cabernet and Merlot wines by the middle of the century. Across the English Channel, English wines are now beating Champagne houses in competitions.