French inheritance battles and taxes continue to shake up Bordeaux, with Margaux third-growth Château d’Issan and St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Monbousquet both selling shares to outside investors in recent days.
On the Left Bank, real-estate magnate Jacky Lorenzetti acquired 50 percent of Issan, buying shares from the Roland Cruse family for an undisclosed sum. The estate was purchased by Emmanuel Cruse in 1945 and left to his sons, Roland and Lionel. Lionel’s children, Emmanuel, Sophie and Aymar, have retained their 50 percent stake, divided equally between them, but were not able to acquire their cousins’ shares.
“My sister and brother and I did not want to sell, but our cousins, who owned 50 percent, they decided to sell—but not to us, which is always the case in these situations,” said Emmanuel. “They will sell to anyone but the other part of the family.” The two sides of the family have been at odds for the 15 years that Emmanuel has run the estate. “They did not like how I managed the estate,” he said.
Cruse, who is also the Grand Maître of the Commanderie du Bontemps trade association, will remain the managing director as part of the acquisition deal with Lorenzetti. “I think this agreement shows he has confidence in me. I am now officially the general manger of his other estates as well.”
Lorenzetti, founder of the Foncia real-estate group and majority owner of the Parisian rugby team Racing Métro 92, also owns Château Lilian Ladouys in St.-Estèphe and fifth-growth Château Pédesclaux. Cruse has been consulting at those estates for some time, so he’s confident of the new partnership. “We needed to find someone we could work with,” said Cruse. “For our side, we’re very happy with the buyer. It’s a new life for Issan.”
Château d’Issan, with its picturesque castle and moat, has 131 acres of vineyards, including 99 acres in the Margaux appellation.
On the Right Bank, Gerard and Chantal Perse, owners of the recently promoted St.-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A Château Pavie, confirmed that they had sold a stake in Château Monbousquet to pay inheritance taxes for their daughter, Angélique. “We have formed an alliance with a pension fund,” Chantal told Wine Spectator. “This was in order to pass on our holdings, the fruit of 40 years of work, to our children.”
Their daughter Angélique and son-in-law Henrique da Costa help run the family business, which includes châteaus Pavie, Pavie-Decesse, Monbousquet, Bellevue-Mondotte, Clos les Lunelles, Clos l’Église, and Ste.-Colombe, as well as the Relais & Châteaux Hostellerie de Plaisance and its two-Michelin-star restaurant in St.-Emilion.
Gerard Perse got his start delivering paint by bike, before making a fortune in supermarkets. While sourcing wine for his stores, he heard Monbousquet was for sale and acquired the estate in 1993 for $9 million. He then bought Château Pavie-Decesse for $4 million in 1997 and Château Pavie in 1998 for $30.8 million.
All of his estates have undergone extensive investments. Monbousquet is a case in point, with 81.5 acres of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Though it has a long, respectable history, in 1993 it had a thorough overhaul. The wines have scored well in recent years; James Molesworth awarded the 2010 vintage 95 points.