The Ballande company, based on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, purchased Prieure-Lichine on June 9 just before the opening of Vinexpo. Ballande is a 37 percent owner in Sovex, a large Bordeaux-based negociant business, and also has a 6 percent stake in the spirits company Marie-Brizard.
Prieure-Lichine joins a growing list of wineries owned by Ballande, whose acquisitions have been spurred by the interests of president Louis Ballande. The Ballande company bought Tisdall, a 210-acre estate in Australia, in 1998. In 1989, it added Vieux Manoir, a 198-acre chateau in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. The Ballande family, separate from its corporation, owns Chateau Baret in the Pessac-Leognan appellation of Bordeaux.
Prieure-Lichine's vineyards cover about 170 acres and are planted to 52 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Merlot, along with Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Though known as a value among classified-growth Bordeaux, Prieure-Lichine had long been an underachiever in the Margaux appellation. However, Sacha Lichine enlisted the help of consulting enologist Michel Rolland in 1995, and from then on, the wines showed more concentration and better structure.
"Prieure-Lichine has an excellent international reputation; it is one of the most well-known names of Bordeaux, which means that the consumers relate directly to the region and to the cru classe," said Louis Ballande, the new president of Prieure-Lichine. "Our company needed a flagship name to enhance our reputation, and Prieure-Lichine is at the top of the ladder."
Ballande confirmed that he will not change Prieure-Lichine's name and will keep the same technical team at the chateau, although he indicated that Rolland might not continue on. "We will also ask a wine consultant to oversee the 1999 harvest to assure the quality of the vintage, although we have not as yet chosen the enologist," he said. "Now our aim is to continue to promote the excellent image of Prieure-Lichine."
Sacha Lichine, who makes his home in Switzerland, would not comment on the sale.
Back to Bordeaux Basics
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions