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Bordeaux's Gregoire Family Turns from Tragedy to New Opportunities

A year after a helicopter crash claimed James Gregoire's life, his sons and widow buy Château Ripeau in St.-Emilion

Suzanne Mustacich
Posted: December 8, 2014

The Gregoire family, former owners of Château La Rivière, have acquired Château Ripeau, a 37.8-acre St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classé estate, from Jean and Francoise de Wilde for an undisclosed sum. The sale will be final in early January. “It was always our dream to buy a Grand Cru Classé following the sale of Château La Rivière,” said Peggy Gregoire, wife of Cyrille Gregoire.

The family patriarch, James Gregoire, died in a tragic helicopter accident last December, the day after he finalized the sale of Château La Rivière to Chinese tea and hotel tycoon Lam Kok. Kok, Kok’s son and consultant Peng Wang also died in the accident.

A year later, Gregoire’s two sons, Cyrille and Nicolas, and his widow, Monique, found in Château Ripeau a new challenge and a promising terroir. “There is great potential and the possibility to improve the estate. Cyrille will handle daily management, but any major decisions will be done by both sons,” said Peggy.

Château Ripeau is located on the St.-Emilion plateau between Château La Dominique and Château Chauvin. The soil of sand, gravel and a vein of clay and iron produces a classic St.-Emilion blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The Gregoires also own Château Bois Noir (AOC Bordeaux Supérieur), Château Puynard (AOC Blaye-Cotes-de-Bordeaux) and a major stake in négociant Vintex.

France’s heavy inheritance taxes lead to the sale of Ripeau. The sellers, siblings Jean and Francoise de Wilde, inherited the estate, which had been in the family since 1917, but passing it on to their heirs has proved too onerous. Ripeau became a Grand Cru Classé in 1954. Francoise de Wilde ran the estate from 1976 until 2004 when her daughter Barbara Janoueix Coutel took over.

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