I wrote a story for Decanter this week that I loved writing, about an old racecourse that is up for sale in Pomerol, potentially offering 13 hectares of land for planting vines. This would increase the appellation size to 793 hectares. There have got to be vineyard owners all over Pomerol lining up to speak to their banks right now...
The Hippodrome de Canterou, officially in the town of Libourne but located in AOC Pomerol very close to Chateau Bonalgue and Chateau La Pointe, is due to close at the end of the year due to financial difficulties, and is being put up for sale. It had previously held just four races per year, and has been running since 1908.
There are as yet no official plans for the land. There are currently no rights for construction on the site, or planting rights for vines, but any eventual buyer will be able to apply for either one.
‘This is an exceptional challenge,’ Jean Marie Garde, president of the Syndicate Viticole of Pomerol, said, ‘We believe that there were vines on at least part of this plot in the 19th century, before construction began on the race course, and we will work with any purchasers to apply to the INAO for rights to plant. But for the Syndicate this is not about individual rights, but a desire to protect this appellation from developers.’
There are suggestions that a group of local winemakers may try together to purchase the land, and then split it between them. The best vineyard land in the area reaches up to EUR3 million per hectare, but as this is currently agricultural with no planting rights, it is likely to go for around EUR1 million per hectare.
‘This is right in the heart of a tiny appellation that is currently 780 hectares of vines, and to be able to increase that would be extraordinary,’ said Garde.
This is definitely a story to watch!