One of Bordeaux's most promising properties is acquiring a new owner with deep pockets. Belgian businessman Philippe Van de Vyvere is purchasing Château Phélan Ségur from the Gardinier family. The château’s management team confirmed to Wine Spectator that final negotiations are underway, with a sale expected soon. The sale price has not been disclosed.
The deal gives Van de Vyvere 173 acres of St.-Estèphe vineyard land and a winery whose scores have been rising for the past decade. “I fell in love with the Château Phélan Ségur, that magnificent estate overlooking the Gironde,” Van de Vyvere told Wine Spectator. “I spoke many times with the Gardinier brothers, making sure they understood that I was a buyer who would respect the estate’s venerable history and who was determined to carry on the excellent work done thus far. My intention is to ensure Phélan Ségur remains one of the great wines of the St.-Estèphe AOC.”
Located on mainly gravel-clay soil, the estate produces 35,000 cases annually. The first wine accounts for roughly 60 percent of that production. “We typify the classic St.-Estèphe terroir,” general manager Véronique Dausse told Wine Spectator.
Dausse and the rest of the team will remain in place under the new ownership, including maître de chai Fabrice Bacquey and consulting enologist Michel Rolland. The transaction is expected to close in early 2018.
Van de Vyvere owns Sea-Invest, which is heavily invested in commercial and industrial port-related sectors. “My grandfather, a devoted connoisseur and collector of Bordeaux wines, first introduced me to this world when I was quite young, and I’ve carried on that family tradition ever since,” he said. “I have several friends who own wineries in the Bordelais, and my dream of one day owning a beautiful property myself came true when I met the Gardinier family.”
The vineyard was created in 1810 and the château was built a decade later by Irish merchant Bernard Phélan. The second wine of the estate, Frank Phélan, is named after his son. Successive owners have turned it into one of the most well-known and well-loved wines around the world. Xavier Gardinier acquired the estate in 1984; he died in 2013.
The proposed sale of Phélan Ségur comes after a strategic restructuring of the parent company, Gardinier & Fils, last May into three distinct areas: Gardinier Hospitality, Gardinier Retail and Gardinier Estate.
Gardinier Estate includes Château Phélan Ségur and their Florida citrus company. Gardinier Retail includes Le Comptoir du Caviar. Gardinier Hospitality runs the group’s hotels and restaurants, including Taillevent Paris and Le Domaine Les Crayères and Les 110 de Taillevant wine bars and brasseries in Paris and London.
The move allows the Gardiniers to focus on the fine-foods trade, including restaurants and distribution, as well as their high-end hotel investments.
“Taillevent Paris, Le Domaine Les Crayères and Le Comptoir du Caviar will benefit the most from this approach,” said a statement from the three brothers, Thierry, Stéphane and Laurent Gardinier. “We can also strengthen the group through outside growth if that proves complementary. Wine is one of our great passions and is still central to our business, so we will be keeping in close contact with our winegrowing friends.”