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Margaux, Top Bordeaux Estate, Buys Pepsi

Jane Shufer, Dana Nigro, Brendan Vaughan
Posted: April 1, 1999

Bucking the recent trend of large corporations snapping up small wineries, Bordeaux's famed Chateau Margaux announced yesterday that it has acquired PepsiCo and will market the company's struggling new Pepsi One brand as a "first-growth" cola in France. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Citing the way Margaux has rebounded into the first ranks of winemaking, the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine quickly granted the American soft-drink company first growth status. Said a source close to the board: "Heck, they could probably make premier grand cru wine out of an old boot. If anyone can assist this Yankee cola beverage, [winemaker] Paul Pontallier can."

"This is a small step for Bordeaux, but a large step for America," said Margaux owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos. "Wait a minute, let me rephrase that."

Within hours of Margaux's announcement, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild stated that Mouton-Rothschild has purchased Coca-Cola, whose stock was hurting after it released declining first-quarter sales figures earlier this week. Rothschild will petition for first-growth status for Coke Classic as well.

Mouton, of course, was originally classified as a second growth in 1855, prompting the first version of its famous motto, "First I cannot be; Second I disdain; Mouton I am." In 1973 it was reclassified, and the motto changed to "First I am; Second I was; Mouton does not change." With the new acquisition, the Baroness said she will be changing the motto to "Always Mouton."

She will keep the "Always Coca-Cola" campaign, but said she does want to start a series of artist-label bottlings. While she claims that no one has been chosen yet, sources close to the chateau said actor Keanu Reeves -- whom the Baroness loved in his role in "Walk in the Clouds," set in a Napa Valley vineyard -- has been invited to try his hand at design.

Both Mentzelopolous and the Baroness refused to comment on rumors of planned wine coolers.

For more on Chateau Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild:

Those Bordelais Make Darn Good Wine

For best recent ratings of Coke and Pepsi, check the Beverage Search

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