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Sweeping into Napa... Bordelais are Buying Real Estate

Alfred Tesseron, who owns Bordeaux château Pontet-Canet, hunted for a Napa Valley property for years. When he and his niece Melanie saw the late Robin Williams’s 640-acre Villa Sorriso high up on Mount Veeder in September, it had the right wine “magic.” The closest neighbor is musician (and vintner) Boz Scaggs.

The Tesserons are the latest players in the new, high-profile wave of Bordeaux vintners sweeping into Napa. French fashion house Chanel, whose billionaire owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer have Bordeaux châteaux Rauzan-Seglaand Canon, plunked down an undisclosed sum for the St. Supéry estate in October. (Wine country insiders speculate the the figure might have been in the neighborhood of $125 million.)

That followed the 2013 purchase of cult winery Araujo Estate by Francois Pinault, owner of first growth Chateau Latour.

Now many more Bordelais are e-mailing and wanting to take a look, says real estate broker Robert Landsness of Pacific Union, who worked with the Tesserons.

Cyd Greer, the listing agent for the Williams estate, who is affiliated with Coldwell Banker, has seen an uptick in interest from Bordeaux in just six months, she said during a phone interview. Considering that many family wineries in the valley will go on the market in the next five years, Bordeaux’s interest is very good news.

So what’s Napa’s appeal for Bordeaux crus classés?

One is financial. Château owners admit privately that buying outside Bordeaux and France is a way to diversify their wine investments. Recently, Bordeaux wines have been a hard sell. Recent vintages haven’t been stellar. The market for top Bordeaux in China has cooled dramatically with the government push against lavish gift-giving, and collectors there have dramatically turned to Burgundy.

Napa cabernets, on the other hand, are booming, with the value of top names climbing on Liv-Ex, especially in the last year. Cult wine Scarecrow, for example, gained 19.9 percent in value from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015, topping Liv-Ex’s annual 100 Power Brand list.

Another reason? As Melanie Tesseron e-mailed: “The U.S. is a country that we are very comfortable in and that we are confident in investing in.”

A part of the 18.4-acre vineyard on the 640-acre Villa Sorriso estate.

The NAPA BRAND: THE High-End Wine World

It’s also a mark of how global the high-end wine world has become, along with where it’s headed.

Photo: Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley

Source: Pontet-Canet

Source: Araujo Estate

Source: St. Supéry

Source: Calistoga Ranch

Source: Wealth X

Source: Bloomberg

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