Burgundy is a small, tightly knit world. Major transactions are rare, and people keep their own counsel. But my sources tell me that a significant deal is in the works.
I have been informed by reliable sources that Vincent Girardin, a highly esteemed grower and winemaker who has been building a small but important négociant arm, is selling his business. The price is rumored to be $52 million to $65 million (at today's rate of $1.30 to the euro).
This would be a major deal for the region, comprising approximately 113 acres of vines. Girardin personally owns roughly 54 acres in the Côte de Beaune, about half of that in Santenay. In addition, there are an additional 57 acres under a holding company, including vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet premiers crus Morgeot and Les Caillerets, Puligny-Montrachet La Garenne, Les Pucelles and Les Referts and grand cru Corton-Charlemagne.
A tiny holographic image of Dom Pérignon chef de cave Richard Geoffroy flickered into view in a glass triangle illuminating a dark, cavernous warehouse space on the west side of Manhattan Dec. 7. About 30 or so journalists, retailers and critics had gathered to hear Geoffroy announce the vintage.
As we tasted the Dom Pérignon 2003, I couldn't help but think how the outsize personality of the young wine stood in stark contrast to the tiny image of its maker. But then, Geoffroy isn't one to use hyperbole to describe his wines. Rather, he speaks in more abstract images and feelings that Dom Pérignon evokes.
On my third day of visits in Barolo, I saw Luciano Sandrone and Elio Grasso. Luciano Sandrone started is estate from scratch and Grasso, though his father and grandfather grew grapes and other crops, switched from a career in finance to work his family's land.
Sandrone came from a family of carpenters in La Morra. Rather than join the family business, he learned to make wine, first at the traditional Giacomo Borgogno, then at Marchesi di Barolo, where he became the cellar master. Sandrone purchased 2.5 acres in Cannubi Boschis in 1970, releasing his first Barolo from the 1978 vintage.
Elio Grasso began bottling under his own label in 1980. His grandfather bought vineyards in Ginestra in 1920, selling grapes and a little wine in barrel, a practice continued by Grasso's father until his death in 1979. His son Gianluca has been making the wines since 1995.