The Bigger the Better: Bordeaux Grand Cru Chateau expands its vineyards

With their purchase of Château Grand Pontet, Domaines Clarence Dillon are creating one of the largest estates in Bordeaux’s right bank – and raising fresh questions about the value of the St Emlion classification.

Châteaux Grand Pontet und Quintus from above / Credit: Domaine Clarence Dillon
Châteaux Grand Pontet und Quintus from above / Credit: Domaine Clarence Dillon

Prince Robert of Luxembourg, President of the Bordelais family business Domaines Clarence Dillon, has announced the purchase of the Grand Cru Classé Château Grand Pontet in Saint-Émilion. The 14ha vineyards are expected to be added to the 28ha of Château Quintus, which itself began life as Château Tertre Daugay until that property was renamed in 2011.

When Domaines Clarence Dillon bought Château Tertre Daugay, it had 16ha, to which 12ha were added. With the Grand Pontet land, the vineyards will cover 42ha, and will be one of the biggest estates in the region.

Unlike Chateau Quintus which is only rated as a Grand Cru, both Tertre Daugay and Grand Pontet are Grands Crus Classés. However, its supposedly superior status is not reflected in the price commanded by Grand Pontet. According to Winesearcher, the average price of the new acquisition across all vintages is €28, compared to €103 for Chateau Quintus.

Apparently, the quality of that wine, the prestige of Domaines Clarence Dillon’ gain through their ownership of Chateaux Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion, and their global distribution are collectively worth more than being part of the St Emilion classification. This will not be lost on those who note the recent departure from the classification of the top estates, Ausone and Cheval Blanc.

The sellers of Château Grand Pontet are the two Becot brothers, owners of Château Beau Sejour-Becot. Their sister, Sylvie Bécot-Pourquet, has been managing the estate since it came into the family's possession in 1980. Nothing is currently known about the reasons for the sale. Mariette Veyssière, technical director of Chateau Quintus, and thus of the new acquisition, has winemaking experience at Châteaux Petrus and Latour, as well as Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion.

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