While grape pickers were heading into Burgundy's vineyards for harvest, the ownership of two producers was changing hands. Boisset, the Burgundy-based négociant and growing empire of wine properties, has made another in a string of acquisitions, buying Burgundy négociant Antonin Rodet from Sequana Capital in late September for an undisclosed amount. And in Chablis, Michel Laroche announced that Groupe Laroche, his collection of wineries in several regions and countries, including Domaine Laroche in Chablis, will merge with JeanJean SA, the large Languedoc-based wine company. Both are traded on the Paris stock exchange—Laroche was valued at $83.3 million, including $41.2 million in debt.
For Boisset, the acquisition of Rodet gives the family-owned company a strong foothold in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise, just south of the Côte d’Or. Antonin Rodet was founded in 1875 and today owns more than 300 acres, of which 222 are planted with vines. Most of these are in the Côte Chalonnaise villages of Mercurey and Rully, but there are also holdings in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Santenay.
Rodet also owns the Nuits-St.-Georges merchant Dufouleur Père & Fils and owns the 7.5-acre monopole premier cru vineyard Nuits-St.-Georges Clos de Thorey. Emmanuel Laurent will continue to make the wines at Rodet, which will retain its independent identity within the Boisset group, according to company spokesperson Nathalie Berges-Boisset.
Boisset, which also owns several California wineries, bought Raymond Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley in August, and earlier this year added Rhône producer Société Gabriel Meffre to its portfolio.
Michel Laroche began looking for a partner in September 2007, finding in JeanJean a company that will “continue the spirit of Laroche,” he said. “We will merge the two companies, give a new name to the group that will express better the variety and qualities of origins [of the wines]. Each company is managed independently, so Laroche will keep the same people making the wines at each of our wineries. Nothing will change."
Laroche will become the second largest shareholder in the new firm, with a 13 percent stake, and has agreed to stay on for two years to train a new manager. The company, which produces or sells wine from Rhône, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, Cahors, Bordeaux, Chablis, Chile and South Africa, will become the fifth-largest wine business in France. The merged company's new name will be announced at the end of the year.