Château de la Dauphine, a promising winery in Bordeaux's Fronsac area, has new owners. The Halley family, which has owned the property since 2000, has sold it to FCB SA, the holding company of the Labrune family, for an undisclosed sum. FCB is the majority stakeholder in Cegedim, a global player in technology and services for the healthcare industry founded by family patriarch Jean-Claude Labrune, and has an annual turnover of $530 million.
Jean Halley, whose family established the Carrefour supermarket chain, acquired de la Dauphine from Christian Moueix in 2000. Halley and his son Guillaume worked together, making substantial investments in the 99 acres of vines and the winery, which produces roughly 16,500 cases a year. The quality of the wines improved in the past decade.
After Jean died in 2011, his three children decided to sell for inheritance reasons. "The château was co-owned by Guillaume, his brother and his sister, and together they decided to sell the estate," Stéphanie Barousse, the estate's commercial director under the Halleys, told Wine Spectator. The Labrunes have promoted Barousse to deputy CEO.
The sale means one French family is taking over from another, which has become unusual in Fronsac. An estimated 10 percent of the appellation's vineyards are now owned by Chinese firms. Guillaume Halley expressed satisfaction that the deal would ensure the continuation of their work and keep the estate under family management—and French ownership.
"La Dauphine had interest from investors from France, Asia and the U.K.," said Barousse. "But Guillaume chose [Jean-Claude] Labrune because he felt he shared the same values as him. Mr. Labrune is someone who is straightforward, a great entrepreneur who started from scratch."
The Labrune family has said that they will continue to produce biodynamic wine, believing that the approach to viticulture and winemaking best expresses the elegance of their terroir. They also plan for Château de la Dauphine to continue to develop its wine tourism program.