Henriot, the growing French wine company that owns Henriot Champagne and Bouchard Père & Fils, one of Burgundy's oldest and largest négociants, is buying the Château de Poncié estate in the Fleurie appellation of Beaujolais. The 120-acre estate, 55 acres of which are planted, is being sold for an undisclosed sum, according to Stanislas Henriot, president of Henriot, Inc. Henriot said the sale should be completed in late June.
The sale continues a trend of Beaujolais' northern neighbors, especially Burgundians, investing in the region. Beaujolais has struggled in the past few years and vineyard prices are low. Louis Jadot purchased the Château des Jacques in Moulin-à-Vent in 1996, and Maison Louis Latour recently bought Henry Fessy. Now other Burgundy négociants are rumored to be looking for opportunities in the area.
Henriot said two factors drove the acquisition of the Poncié estate: an increasing demand for high-quality French wines and the Henriot group's belief in a promising future for Beaujolais. Henriot's father, Joseph, chairman of the company, bought Bouchard in 1996 and has since revitalized the négociant, which owns 320 acres in Burgundy's Côte d'Or, including 30 acres of grand cru parcels. Henriot also owns William Fèvre in Chablis, Henriot Champagne and a U.S. import firm.
Stanislas admitted that there has been a "decline in the name of Beaujolais" over the past 40 years, but he feels, "there is amazing terroir located throughout the region and we have invested in a very special plot with Château de Poncié. Fleurie is one of the very top crus of Beaujolais and we believe that the wines we will produce will drive those growers around us to strive for even higher quality wine as well."
Prior to this sale, Château de Poncié wines were available in bottlings from Louis Jadot and Domaine du Vissoux. "I am very happy with the news—It is essential that quality outside producers arrive in the region where there are real opportunities," said Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of Jadot. "Beaujolais is a magnificent region currently going through difficult times."
According to Henriot, the firm will work with the team already in place at Château de Poncié, with no major changes planned in the immediate future.