French luxury group EPI and the Biondi Santi family of Italy have signed a deal giving EPI a significant stake in Tuscany's historic Biondi-Santi winery in Montalcino and forming a financial and strategic partnership to grow the brand. The price and details of the alliance were not disclosed. The deal was completed Dec. 16.
"I have been working on this partnership for a year," Jacopo Biondi Santi told Wine Spectator. "It is a partnership between France and Italy, between Champagne and Brunello." Owned by the Descours family, EPI has owned the Champagne houses Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck since 2011.
EPI president Christopher Descours described the partnership as a unique opportunity to accelerate the international development of Biondi-Santi while strengthening the character of the winery. "It is very much part of EPI's DNA," he said. "We, at EPI, have acquired over the years a strong experience in developing wine and Champagne brands in the ultrapremium category. What was achieved with Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck within the last five years makes me confident about the possibility of EPI and Biondi Santi to tie up and build a bright future for Biondi-Santi wines."
Jacopo will remain as winemaker and president of the company, which is famous for its history, for the quality of the Sangiovese at its Il Greppo estate and for the long stewardship of Jacopo's father Franco. Jacopo's son, Tancredi, will also be involved in production and commercial roles. Under the previous ownership structure, Biondi Santi's mother, Maria Floria, and sister, Alessandra, were principals. Their shares were purchased as part of the new agreement, according to Jacopo. (He also owns Castello di Montepò in the Morellino di Scansano appellation, which was not part of the deal.)
"Even if EPI is taking a majority stake, the Biondi Santi family does remain a stakeholder," said Descours. "What is important for us is that each party will play its own role in growing the reputation and excellence of Biondi Santi. EPI will help Biondi Santi from a business point of view, and Jacopo and Tancredi will be also very much involved in overlooking the vineyards, the winemaking and will also act as brand ambassadors."
Currently, Biondi-Santi does not have a United States importer. However, the new partnership plans to resolve the issue by mid-2017.