Martin and Olivier Bouygues, owners of Bordeaux second-growth Château Montrose in St.-Estèphe, have acquired the fabled Loire Valley domaine Clos Rougeard. The deal was closed June 22, but the purchase price has not been disclosed.
The estate had been rumored for sale since the passing of longtime owner and vigneron Jean-Louis "Charly" Foucault in late 2015. The 25-acre estate in Saumur-Champigny, which produces about 3,000 cases in a good year, was among the first wine-industry proponents of biodynamic farming methods, beginning in 1969 when Foucault and his brother Bernard "Nady" Foucault became the eighth generation of their family to run the domaine.
"We're very excited," Hervé Berland, CEO of Montrose, told Wine Spectator.
While further announcements regarding additions to the team will follow, Berland confirmed that Foucault will remain at the estate as a consultant.
"We didn't want him to leave, and he didn't want to go. He's so much part of the history of the estate. We need his savoir faire," said Berland. "We want it to remain small, no changes."
Clos Rougeard produces three red wines, Le Clos, Les Poyeux and Le Bourg, each made from 100 percent Cabernet Franc, and one white, Brézé, made from Chenin Blanc.
Martin Bouygues has been chairman and CEO of his family's industrial conglomerate Bouygues Group, which includes France's third-largest telecommunications company, since 1989. His brother Olivier runs their energy holdings. Founded by their father, Francis, in 1952, the year Martin was born, the Bouygues Group operates in more than 100 countries with revenues of $40 billion.
Since purchasing Montrose in 2006, Bouygues' investment in a new cellar, as well as the purchase of a 49-acre parcel of vines from neighboring Château Phélan Ségur, have revitalized this benchmark estate. In addition, Berland was hired as general director in 2012 after a 35-year run at Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. (Château Mouton-Rothschild), and new maître de chai Vincent Decup took over winemaking in 2014. As the château's operations have solidified in recent years, Montrose is now rivaling Château Cos-d'Estournel for the title of best estate in the appellation. The recently released 2014 vintage earned 95 points, or classic, on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale.
At Montrose, Bouygues has shown an interest in organic farming practices. 2016 marked the first time organically or biodynamically farmed grapes were harvested at Montrose. 104 acres are now under organic or biodynamic practices, with the intention of eventually converting the estate's entire 219 acres of vines.