French billionaire François Pinault, the owner of Bordeaux’s Château Latour and several other notable wine properties, is diving deeper into Burgundy. His holding company, Artémis Domaines, has sealed an agreement to purchase Clos de Tart, a coveted Burgundy grand cru in Morey-St.-Denis dating to the 12th century, from Burgundy’s Mommessin family. Pinault is just the fourth owner in the estate's 900-year history.
"The transaction will be definitive in early 2018, as soon as all of the conditions have been met," said a spokesperson for Artémis.
The coup didn't come cheap. The announcement follows a bidding war between well-known names on France's rich list, culminating in a price tag sources say is more than $230 million.
Clos de Tart attracted such ferocious bidding for several reasons. First, it’s the largest grand cru monopole in Burgundy, with an 18.5-acre parcel in the Côte de Nuits. A low, stone wall encircles the land, creating a clos. In 1939, the clos became a monopole with its own AOC.
Thanks to the work of now-retired estate director Sylvain Pitiot, the clos is divided into 27 individual plots, based on geology, vine age and content of active limestone in the soils. The complexity of the geology creates six microclimatic blocks, which are harvested separately. The wine is vinified in a modern vat room, then aged in underground cellars dug from rock in the 19th century.
The estate has been certified organic since 2015 and has an annual production of around 2,500 cases. It currently produces two labels, Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole and La Forge de Tart Premier Cru, under current director Jacques Devauges.
Clos de Tart is also a historic icon, tied to the Cistercians, a monastic order known for their winemaking in Burgundy for centuries. In 1141, Cistercian nuns from the Tart Abbey acquired the vineyards that became Clos de Tart. The sisters maintained the vineyard for 650 years, until 1790, when the revolutionary French government confiscated the lands owned by the Catholic church. In 1791, négociant and politician Joseph Marey bought Clos de Tart from the state. In 1932, the family sold Clos de Tart to Henri Mommessin, a négociant from Mâcon.
Pinault also owns Latour and a 49 percent stake in Château Siaurac in Bordeaux, Château-Grillet (another monopole) in the Northern Rhône, Eisele Vineyard in Napa Valley and Domaine d'Eugénie in Vosne-Romanée, located not far from Clos de Tart. An Artémis spokesperson says Domaine d'Eugénie and Clos de Tart will be run separately, though Frédéric Engerer, general manager of Artémis Domaines, will oversee both properties.