Following up on the news that Ch Carmes Haut-Brion has been sold, I thought it was very interesting to hear Alex Hall (at Vineyard Intelligence, a new company specialising in giving advice and support to those looking to purchase vineyard property in Bordeaux, www.vineyardintelligence.com) that it might have been bought for its real estate value rather than its vines.
It is certainly true that Pichet is a huge property group . The part that bought Carmes Haut Brion is calle PFP (Patrimoniale FonciŤre Pichet), and they have over 20,000m2 of offices, various hotels and luxury short-term rental apartments and one large commercial centre. That is without the Ä400 million estate agency business that Groupe Pichet runs. Rumour has it that they already owned a large plot of land just next to Carmes Haut Brion prior to the purchase.
They seem fairly clear, however, that they want to keep Carmes Haut-Brion as a wine estate, and it is certainly possible that the allure of a Bordeaux estate (particularly one that shares a name with Haut Brion) is worth the outlay of capital. Their intentions, according to the press release sent yesterday, is to restore the 19th century chateau, build a new winery, and to turn the 3-hectare park (designed originally by landscape architect Fischer) into a haven for wildlife, putting in ponds or a lake (to offer a haven for wild ducks), and encouraging biodiversity that they will extend into their treatment of the vines. The company as a whole has a recent history of green projects with their real estate business, so again this could be seen a showcase for their 'green values'.
The purchase has taken more than a year to complete (not at all unusual), and finally sold for a hefty Ä18 million. If they are seeing it as a flagship for their values as a company, perhaps the price tag is worth it (and there can be no doubt at all that other players would have been interested in getting hold of this estate). They say that it will be used for receptions, company meetings and other business related things - no mention of M. Pichet moving in!