Two owners of top St.-Emilion and Pomerol estates have teamed up to buy two properties in the less-prestigious Cttes de Castillon appellation of Bordeaux. Gerard Perse, owner of chbteaus Pavie, Pavie-Decesse and Monbousquet in St.-Emilion, and Alain Raynaud, who owns chbteaus La Croix-de-Gay and La Fleur de Gay in Pomerol, bought Chbteau Clos l'Eglise for $2.8 million and Chbteau Moulin Rouge for $1.4 million.
"Our aim is to make some great wines at affordable prices, as we all know how much the grands crus wines have become speculative," said Raynaud, who also owns Chbteau Quinault in St.-Emilion. The estimated retail price of Clos l'Eglise (which bears the same name as the better-known Pomerol estate) will be about $15 per bottle. In contrast, the 1996 vintage of Pavie retailed at $46 and the 1996 La Fleur de Gay sold for $84 on release.
The Cttes de Castillon, located east of the renowned St.-Emilion appellation on the Right Bank, has already sparked interest among other winemakers. (In December 1998, Stefan de Neipperg, owner of the well-regarded Chbteau Canon-La Gaffelihre in St.-Emilion, bought Chbteau d'Aiguilhe in the Cttes de Castillon district.) "We have a lot of faith in this appellation," said Raynaud. "The plateau where Clos l'Eglise is situated is the exact mirror image of the terroir at Pavie. The quality is excellent."
The 84 acres at Clos l'Eglise are planted to 60 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Franc and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Perse and Raynaud's new company, La Sociiti des Vignobles G. Perse & A. Raynaud, took charge of the 1999 harvest and will continue to make a grand vin and a second wine, Chbteau Ste.-Colombe. This year, the estate will produce 3,330 cases of its first wine and 2,750 cases of the Ste.-Colombe, which will retail for about $10.
Moulin Rouge is a smaller property of 59 acres planted to 60 percent Merlot and 40 percent Cabernet Franc. "We bought this property more for the buildings than for the land," said Raynaud. "There is a lot of work to do over the next four to five years, and we will have to replant 20 percent of the vineyards." The new owners also vinified the 1999 vintage, although it will be sold in bulk this year. In the future, they will drop the Moulin Rouge brand and use the wine for the Ste.-Colombe label.
Perse and Raynaud are considering buying a third property in the Cttes de Castillon within the next year. "We want to have a total investment of 75 hectares [about 185 acres] in the appellation, with three price ranges to offer to the consumer," said Raynaud.
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