France’s Le Lous family is in the process of closing a deal to acquire Château Cantenac-Brown, a classified third-growth in Margaux. British businessman Simon Halabi has owned the Bordeaux winery since 2006. The price has not been disclosed.
“Wine is a family passion passed on from generation to generation," Tristan Le Lous told Wine Spectator. "My wife is from Bordeaux and thanks to her I got to discover this beautiful region. Château Cantenac-Brown is one of the crown jewels of the Médoc region."
Le Lous, 40, is spearheading the negotiations on behalf of his family, who made their fortune in healthcare products, notably Urgo bandages. The Urgo group, based in Dijon, is run by Tristan and his brothers Briac and Guirec Le Lous. This is their first vineyard acquisition.
"As an agricultural engineer, I have very high expectations for this Grand Cru, given the exceptional quality of its terroir," said Le Lous. “I was absolutely charmed with the site’s gorgeous architecture and its great wine.”
Cantenac-Brown dates to 1806, when it was founded by a wealthy Scottish merchant named John Lewis Brown. The estate changed hands over the years. The French firm AXA-Millésimes acquired it in 1989, then sold it to Halabi in 2006, reportedly for more than $70 million.
Today the 220-acre estate includes 119 acres of vineyards classified as Margaux, 7.5 acres of AOC Bordeaux and 2.5 acres of AOC Bordeaux Blanc. The winery produces three wines: Château Cantenac-Brown, second wine Brio de Cantenac-Brown and white wine Alto de Cantenac-Brown. The winery typically sells about 20,000 cases per year. A picturesque 49-acre wooded park and an imposing castle complete the bucolic setting.
Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.
“The first glance of Château Cantenac-Brown can really make your heart swell. Every time I see the Tudor-style castle overlooking the Gironde estuary through the morning mist I have a strong emotional reaction,” said Le Lous.
Should the deal go through, the technical team, led by general manager and winemaker José Sanfins, will remain in place. "Our challenge, with the recognized expertise of José Sanfins and the entire team, will be to provide the utmost precision at each step of the technical manufacturing process to produce, year after year, one of the best Margaux wines,” said Le Lous.
Since 2006, Sanfins has moved the estate toward sustainable viticulture. The Le Lous family has expressed a commitment to a green philosophy. They also have ambitious plans for substantial investments, including the construction of a state-of-the-art winery that will allow for plot-by-plot vinification.
"Tristan Le Lous has a deep respect for the estate and its history," said Sanfins. "He also brings a bold, contemporary vision of viticulture. I am very fortunate to be able to participate in this new chapter in the history of the château.”