Two respected figures in Bordeaux--Bruno Prats, former owner of second-growth Château Cos-d'Estournel, and Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, co-owner of Château Angelus, one of St.-Emilion's best estates--are making a joint investment in a South African winery. The two are buying a 50 percent stake in Anwilka, an estate in the prime wine region of Stellenbosch, where they will produce a new red blend. While they did not disclose the purchase price, it is estimated at around $1 million.
The 104-acre Anwilka estate, located on the Indian Ocean side of the Stellenbosch region, was formerly solely owned by the South African wine company Klein Constantia, which is now a partner with Prats and de Boüard in the joint venture.
The estate encompasses 99 acres of vineyards, which were planted by Klein Constantia between 1997 and 2001 to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Five more acres will be planted in the near future.
The joint-venture deal was struck in February, immediately before the 2005 harvest, and a new winery was quickly built to accommodate the first vintage of the new wine. Prats and de Boüard made a selection of grapes from the estate's vineyards for the production of the new Anwilka wine; Klein Constantia used the rest of the grapes for its current range of reds.
The new wine--a blend of 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Syrah and 5 percent Merlot--is currently maturing in French oak barrels, 60 percent in new wood and 40 percent in year-old barrels. The partners will release around 4,000 cases of the first vintage in 2006 and will sell it through the Bordeaux wine trade.
"We want to make a premium, hopefully superpremium red on the estate," Prats said, "and we won't be fixing a release price until the wine is ready and we can make a proper quality assessment."
Prats, who currently resides in Switzerland, first became involved in wine projects outside his native France while he was still owner of Cos-d'Estournel. In 1990, he cofounded Viña Aquitania/Domaine Paul Bruno, in Chile's Maipo Valley, with Paul Pontallier, manager of Bordeaux first-growth Château Margaux. The Aquitania wines were recently reintroduced to the U.S. market.
Shortly after the Prats family sold Cos-d'Estournel for $115 million in 1998, a move prompted by the need to resolve family shareholding and inheritance problems, he teamed-up with the Symington family, one of the great names of Port, to produce red wines in Portugal's Douro Valley. Those wines are called Chryseia and Post Scriptum.
"The South Africa project is going to take a few years to reach maturity," Prats said, "so I have no further projects in mind at present."