Changyu picks up French chateau for $3.5m

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - ByWANG ZHUOQIONG in Beijing and JUCHUANJIANG in Qing­dao, Shan­dong

Yan­tai Changyu Pioneer Wine Co Ltd, one of China’s lead­ing wine pro­duc­ers, has bought a 90 per­cent stake in the Bordeaux-based Chateau Mire­fleurs for 3.33 mil­lion eu­ros ($3.54 mil­lion).

ChateauMire­fleurs be­longs to French drinks com­pany Cas­tel Group.

The ac­qui­si­tion al­lows Changyu to gain what is called Ap­pel­la­tion d’Orig­ine Con­trolee, or con­trolled des­ig­na­tion of ori­gin — a qual­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion granted to cer­tain French wines, cheese and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

The deal marks the sec­ond ven­ture be­tween the Shan­dong prov­ince-based Changyu and Cas­tel. In 2002, the two builtChina’s first pro­fes­sional win­ery — Yan­tai Changyu Cas­tel Chateau.

Lo­cated in Yvrac dis­trict of Bordeaux, the Chateau Mire­fleurs es­tate grows 55 hectares of vines, planted on south-fac­ing slopes.

The op­er­a­tion made a 40,000-euro loss last year, af­ter be­ing forced to drop its prices, but Sun Jian, Changyu’s deputy gen­eral man­ager, expects it to re­turn to the black once more of its high-qual­ity bot­tles are sold in China.

“This is only the lat­est step in our ex­pan­sion. The com­pany is al­ready look­ing at more chateaux of this qual­ity and char­ac­ter in Bordeaux and other ar­eas of France,” said Sun, adding the search is also be­ing ex­tended to main wine­pro­duc­ing coun­tries in­clud­ing Aus­tralia and Chile.

Chateau Mire­fleurs dates back to the 15th cen­tury and grows pre­dom­i­nantly mer­lot and caber­net sauvi­gnon grapes.

It can pro­duce 250,000 bot­tles an­nu­ally, and has two reg­is­tered trade­marks— Chateau Mire­fleurs and Chateau Tech­eney.

It was bought by Cas­tel Chateau Co in 1970, a sub­sidiary of Cas­tel Group, one of the coun­try’s top wine­mak­ers founded in Bordeaux in 1949.

Changyu al­ready owns the French cognac house Roul­letFransac Chateau, which it bought in 2013, and Span­ish wine pro­ducer Mar­ques del Atrio, ac­quired in Septem­ber this year for 26.25 mil­lion eu­ros.

Sun said Spain is China’s third-largest source of im­ported wines, af­ter France and Aus­tralia, “but in terms of value, that mar­ket has be­come the most com­pet­i­tive”.

Li Xinxin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Beijing wine trader Chateaux Haut-vallee, said Changyu’s lat­est ac­qui­si­tion will lift its tech­nol­ogy level, en­hance its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and di­ver­sify its brand port­fo­lio.

Con­tact the writer at wangzhuo­qiong@chi­nadaily. and juchuanjiang@chi­

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