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French Insurance Firm Buys Bordeaux's Calon-Ségur

Jean-François Moueix helps engineer $212.5 million deal; buys minority share

Suzanne Mustacich
Posted: July 3, 2012

Bordeaux third-growth Château Calon-Ségur has been sold to Suravenir, the life-insurance subsidiary of French banking group Credit Mutuel Arkea, for an estimated $212.5 million. Videlot, a Bordeaux wine group owned by Jean-François Moueix, is a minority partner in the deal. The purchase agreement was signed June 29 and the buyers expect to finalize the sale in November. (Wine Spectator first reported that a deal involving an unidentified buyer and Moueix was close to completion on June 28.)

The purchase includes 235 acres in St.-Estèphe, encompassing Calon-Ségur, second label Marquis de Calon and a cru bourgeois property, Capbern-Gasqueton. This is the most prominent of several Bordeaux properties to recently change hands, largely due to inheritance taxes and family disagreements.

The estate was sold by Hélène de Baritault du Carpia and her nieces Agnes Florisoone and Sophie de Mascarel de la Corbière. The future of Calon-Ségur has been in question since the death of proprietor Denise Capbern-Gasqueton in September 2011 at the age of 87. The formidable Madame Gasqueton, as she was known, had run the estate with passion and a firm hand since the death of her husband in 1995. Calon-Ségur's wines earned high praise during that time, but she was a divisive figure in the family, which has owned the estate since the late 19th century.

Credit Mutuel Arkea has been looking to diversify its investment portfolio with a vineyard acquisition for some time. "We consider Calon-Ségur a long-term investment that will gain in value and we are here to be a stable, long-term investor. There is no plan to resell the property in 10 years or anything like that," Credit Mutuel Arkea spokesperson Florence Eckenschwiller told Wine Spectator.

This is the first vineyard investment for Brittany-based Credit Mutuel Arkea, and for this reason executives were happy to allow Moueix to buy a small stake in exchange for not only helping organize the deal, but gaining access to his experience. "Mr. Moueix will participate in all decisions related to running the estate. We consider him and his expertise a guarantee for success," said Eckenschwiller.

Moueix—the current owner of Pomerol’s famed Château Pétrus, négociant Duclot and a wine retail chain in France—was unavailable for comment, but Credit Mutuel Arkea confirmed that Moueix had provided the same service at Calon-Ségur that he had at Château Montrose.

In 2006, when Château Montrose’s then-owner, Jean-Louis Charmolüe, decided to sell, Jean-Francois Moueix brought billionaires Martin and Olivier Bouygues to the table. At the time, Jean-Francois and his brother, Christian Moueix (owner of Right Bank châteaus such as Trotanoy and La Fleur-Pétrus), acquired minority stakes in Montrose.

Calon-Ségur has a rich pedigree, once among the properties owned by the "Prince of Vines," Nicolas-Alexandre, the Marquis de Ségur—along with châteaus Lafite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Pontet-Canet, d'Armailhac and Montrose. The château passed through various owners in the late-18th and 19th centuries, until it was purchased by Georges Gasqueton of Château Capbern-Gasqueton in 1894. However, Calon-Ségur's iconic heart-shaped label remains a reminder of the Marquis' assertion that, "I make my wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is in Calon."

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