India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Rolland: Man who sold it to the Chinaman

Posted: Monday, 17 June 2013 17:31

Rolland: Man who sold it to the Chinaman

June 17: Michel Rolland, the flying consultant winemaker involved with over a 100 wineries across the globe including Grover Vineyards in India since inception, sold his own family winery in Pomerol, Château Le Bon Pasteur last month to a Chinese businessman and though he feels sad about the sale, he asserts he is not the first or the last to sell to the Chinese

In what appears to be a purely commercial deal, he told  that the property that had been with the family since the 1920s had been expected to be sold for years because his brother wanted to sell and get his share of the money. Rolland  is still a shareholder, winemaker and estate manager of the estate, though.

This would be good news for the buyer, Pan Sutong, chairman of Hong Kong-based investment holding company Goldin Financial Holdings. While the value of the property is quite high, the income from it is almost zero but with the possibility of selling wines into the Chinese market, it might fetch better prices for higher volumes and thus generate a good income for Sutong.

As a part of the package, the other two small chateaux owned by Michel and his family - Château Rolland-Maillet in St-Emilion and Château Bertineau St. Vincent in Lalande Pomerol - were also sold to the same buyer. Thus the Chinese won’t know that the French wines they are drinking from these chateaux are actually coming from a Chinese owner. There should be nothing odd or objectionable about that. As Rolland reminds you, Bordeaux has always been a cosmopolitan place. First it was the Americans, the Irish, the Belgians, the Japanese and now the Chinese have been added to the list of buyers.

Bordeaux may not be as snooty as Champagne where the locals could prevail upon Taittinger when it came up for sale and blocked the transfer to Vijay Mallya of UB Spirits in India because he was a rank outsider and that was not acceptable to them. He does not highlight the fact that the typical Bordelaise still do not like to accept outsiders as their own. Chateau Margaux was bought in 1977 by André Mentzelopoulos, the Greek father of the current French Greek owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos who took over the management in 1980 when her father died.

‘The wine world that was so alarmed by the arrival of a Hellene in the Médoc, redoubled its concerns on the death of André Mentzelopoulos. This paradox is explained in reality by the fact that André Mentzelopoulos had convinced even the most pessimistic doubters by his energy and clear vision that, put into the service of his passion for Château Margaux, had, with almost spectacular speed, re-established the quality of the wine and the reputation of the estate,’ reads the website of the First Growth Chateau. Corinne who turns 50 this year, is known to have said a few years ago that despite her being in France and specifically Bordeaux for decades, she is still considered an outsider; at least by the Bordeaux aristocratic families.

Perhaps, it is for this reason that the Bordelaise are generally alarmed by the gradual and continual Chinese takeover. Legally they cannot stop such sales and with the recent deep recession, the economic conditions of some of the chateaux has become so pathetic that the producers are desperate to sell and generally the Chinese with a lot of money in their pocket and bags who are willing to snap up good deals are welcome by the sellers.

While many people are afraid that the purchases might be made implicitly on behalf of the Chinese government, no such connection has been established so far. Chinese businessmen are extremely suave and can smell profits even when they are not visible to the naked eye. As Rolland explains to dB, Chinese interest in Bordeaux is helping to keep the region alive since the Chinese with money are flocking to the region at the moment.

Interestingly, the sale took place because of his meeting with Sutong at Sloan Estate in the Napa Valley, which was bought a couple of years ago for USD $40 million and where Rolland also consults. However, he refuses to divulge the sale price of his own estates claiming the usual privacy in such deals being the norm in Bordeaux.

One also cannot be so sure that these properties won’t come back for resale into the market - with the current owner Sutong making a hefty profit by selling to another Chinese buyer if he could be convincing enough that the property with Michel Rolland as the estate manager had Chinese management. At least four such properties bought by the Chinese during the last two years are back in the market where the original Chinese buyers have made profits by selling to the new Chinese buyers with a value add, like any other real estate deals, according to Decanter. Many more properties are expected to be in the market for sale.

The question is, with Chinese businessmen deep into the game already, would enterprising brains in India stay behind. With Indians buying businesses in every country that offers pecuniary benefits, it would be not too far in the future that we would be hearing of such stories, although generally the Indians are enamoured more by Italy-especially Tuscany; Chinese are deep into Bordeaux.

Of course, there is always Michel Rolland or Grover Vineyards, now Grover Zampa, who could benefit from their collaboration with the Bordelaise and his immense knowledge of the region.

Subhash Arora

For an earlier related article, click Chinese Camel ready to grab the Tent

Tags: Michel Rolland, Pan Sutong, Hong Kong, Château Rolland-Maillet, Château Bertineau St. Vincent, Bordeaux, Napa Valley



Natasha Vohra Says:

Frustration and anger seems to be building up in Bordeaux. The news report from BBC where six innocent Chinese students studying oenology were beaten up is an example of this: Natasha Vohra

Posted @ June 17, 2013 17:50


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet