French winemakers fear 'Asian invasion'
THE chateau producing Napoleon's favourite red wine, which is one of Burgundy's most prized vineyards, has been sold to a Chinese gambling tycoon, leading to dire warnings from local growers of a "foreign invasion" of mainly Asian investors.
The unnamed casino magnate from Macao outbid local vintners to pay €8m for Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin -- a 12th-century listed building -- along with its two-hectare vineyard and pinot noir grapes.
It is the first Burgundy chateau to fall into the hands of the Chinese, who have already bought 20 Bordeaux chateaux and are fanning out to other regions as they seek to cater for rocketing domestic demand for French wine.
But local wine-growers are furious at seeing the chateau sold to outsiders, particularly as they had put in an offer of €5m -- well above the estimated value of the property of around €3m. They want nothing less than state intervention to keep their wine heritage in French hands.
"I think France is selling its soul and that our politicians must react," said Jean-Michel Guillon, the president of the Gevrey-Chambertin winemakers syndicate. "We are starting to say to ourselves that our heritage is going out the window because it is not the only (foreign) purchase we've seen in the area. I'm afraid that, within years, Burgundy will no longer belong to Burgundians."
Gevrey-Chambertin is a village in the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy and is home to some of the world's most expensive red wines derived exclusively from pinot noir. Its intensity of colour and rich, deep flavours have earned it the title the "King of Wines". (© Daily Telegraph, London)