For the second time this year, Vincor International, Canada's largest wine company, has launched a joint venture with a French giant. Groupe Taillan, one of the largest French producers of appellation contrYlHe wines, and Vincor plan to make a high-end, Bordeaux-style red blend in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
The two companies have jointly purchased a 64-acre property on Lake Osoyoos, at the southern end of the Okanagan Valley. The estate has been named Osoyoos Larose.
Groupe Taillan is the first foreign company to invest in British Columbia's wine industry. The French group owns six classified-growth chteaus in Bordeaux, including Gruaud-Larose in St.-Julien, Haut-Bages-LibHral in Pauillac, FerriKre in Margaux and Chasse-Spleen in Moulis. "We had the opportunity of touring the Okanagan Valley and discovered its ability to grow Bordeaux varieties of the highest caliber," said Antoine Merlaut, CEO of the French firm.
Together, the partners will spend $7.5 million to develop the estate and build a winery. Vincor chairman Don Triggs called it "a formidable demonstration of our absolute belief in the world-class quality and future of Okanagan wine."
Fifty acres of the property are being planted predominantly with Merlot, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The remainder of the property has been set aside for the winery and tasting room. Michel Rolland, owner of Chteau Le Bon-Pasteur in Pomerol and consultant to wineries around the globe, has been named chief winemaker.
The partners expect to produce between 20,000 and 25,000 cases per year, with prices starting at about $17 per bottle. The first wines will be released in 2005.
This year, Vincor, which owns the Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, Okanagan Vineyards and Sawmill Creek brands, has been on a spending spree. In February, it announced an alliance with Burgundy producer Boisset to establish Le Clos Jordan, a Pinot Noir estate in Ontario, on the Niagara Peninsula.
A month later, it purchased two British Columbia wineries, Sumac Ridge Estate and Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards. In August, Vincor bought The R.H. Phillips Vineyard in California, north of Napa Valley.
In addition to the six chteaus, Groupe Taillan's holdings include Bordeaux nHgociant Ginestet; nHgociant companies in Burgundy, the CYtes du RhYne, the Loire Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon; and a 50 percent stake in a winery in China.
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