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One of Montepulciano's Best Estates Changes Hands

Family owners of Avignonesi sell a majority share to Belgian businesswoman

Jo Cooke
Posted: August 5, 2008

The Falvo family, founders of Avignonesi, a well-known Vino Nobile di Montepulciano estate in Tuscany, has sold a majority share of the company to Virginie Saverys, director of the Belgian shipping company Compagnie Maritime Belge NV, for an undisclosed amount.

Saverys has been a minority shareholder and a member of Avignonesi's management committee since 2007, when she purchased a 30 percent stake from family head Ettore Falvo, who left the company that year.

Under the terms of the current sale, finalized in mid-June, the Falvo family retains a 10 percent share of Avignonesi and will continue to manage the estate for the next five years, with Alberto Falvo staying on as president and managing director. The Falvos also retain ownership of Li Veli, their 74-acre estate in Puglia, purchased by Avignonesi in 1999.

"On the surface, nothing is going to change at Avignonesi for the time being," said Edoardo Falvo, cellar and sales manager. "But we believe that this is a great opportunity for Avignonesi and also for ourselves, with regard to Li Veli, whose size is much more suited to a family operation."

The sale also included the Avignonesi-owned international distribution company, Classica, which represents 35 international brands of wine, distillates and other foodstuffs and owns the Negozio Classica store in London, England.

Apart from its regular Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Avignonesi also produces, in top vintages, a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Grandi Annate Riserva. The 1997 Grandi Annate Riserva scored 96 points on release and was ranked fourth on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list of 2001. Their Vin Santo is one of the most famous wines in Italy, the 1990 vintage achieving a perfect 100-point score on release in 2000.

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