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Burgundy's Maison Champy Buys Domaine Laleure-Piot

Négociant gains control over 25 acres of top vineyards; private investors own the land

Bruce Sanderson
Posted: June 28, 2010

Maison Champy, Burgundy's oldest négociant, has closed a deal to buy Domaine Laleure-Piot. Champy's director, Pierre Meurgey, said the purchase, signed in April, includes the stock of wines and the winery in Pernand-Vergelesses. As for Laleure-Piot's 25 acres of mostly premiers crus and grands crus vineyards, a group of private investors purchased the land and gave Champy a 25-year lease.

Champy, founded in 1720 in Beaune, now controls nearly 67 acres of vines, mostly in the Côte de Beaune. The addition of Laleure-Piot's holdings gives the négociant some prime sources of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, including Corton Le Rognet, Corton Les Bressandes, Corton-Charlemagne (Champy now controls 2.5 acres, all on the Pernand-Vergelesses side), Pernand-Vergelesses Ile des Vergelesses and Les Vergelesses, as well as Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Vergelesses.

"Being able to have 10 hectares [25 acres] with mainly premiers and grands crus vineyards is unusual," said Meurgey. "Despite the financial difficulties due to the economy over the past year, we pursued it."

It was a complicated deal. The Laleure-Piot holdings were owned by several family members, which made it difficult for vintner Frédéric Laleure to envision the future direction of the estate, according to Meurgey. After reaching an agreement with the family, Champy needed approval from Société d'Aménagement Foncier et d'Établissement Rural (SAFER), the agency that oversees the sale of all vineyards in France.

During that time, Frédéric Laleure harvested the 2009 crop and made the wines, under the guidance of Champy's enologist and winemaker Dimitri Bazas. Champy will oversee the aging and bottling of the 2009s, which will carry the Laleure-Piot label. Champy is in the process of converting the vineyards to organic and biodynamic farming to be consistent with their existing vineyards. The first vintage under the Champy label will be 2010 and will be made in the old Laleure-Piot cellars.

"Now that we have 27 hectares [roughly 67 acres] it will allow us in the future to promote Domaine Champy wines," said Meurgey. "We are reorganizing our production, but will probably specify that on the label, along with our organic and biodynamic certification once it is approved."

Champy's next project is centralizing its production. Currently the wines are made and aged at three facilities—a cuvérie near Pommard, a cellar in Pernand-Vergelesses and the company headquarters in the center of Beaune.

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