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Prominent Port Estate Sold

Luxury hotel to be added to Quinta da Romaneira

James Suckling
Posted: December 2, 2004

Christian Seely, who heads Quinta do Noval and several French estates, will oversee plans to improve the estate.
A group of French and English investors including Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millésimes, bought Quinta da Romaneira, one of the largest riverfront wine properties in Portugal's Douro Valley, on Nov. 30. The group said it plans to develop a luxurious hotel on the property and aims to transform the estate into a first-class table wine and Port producer.

Seely, who will continue to head Quinta do Noval as well as other AXA-owned estates, such as Bordeaux's Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron and Sauternes estate Château Suduiraut, will oversee the project. He would not divulge the purchase price, but estimates place it at close to $14 million.

"Romaneira has great potential to make serious, high quality Vintage Port," said the Englishman, who is credited with turning around Quinta do Noval in the mid-1990s, making it one of the region's top Port houses. "I made the wine there this vintage, and I am seriously encouraged."

Romaneira had an excellent reputation for producing Port in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, its wines were used in some of the great vintages of Taylor Fladgate, including the 1935.

The 940-acre property includes about 170 acres of vineyards, of which about 100 will have to be replanted, Seely said. "I will plant it with key Port grapes, as well as a few interesting international varieties, such as Syrah, for table wines," he added.

The proposed hotel will be supervised by Frenchman Thierry Teyssier, who owns a small deluxe auberge in southern Morocco called Dar Ahlam. "We want to make Romaneira a deluxe hotel destination in Europe, as well as a top Port and table-wine producer," Seely said.

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