The recent sale of the famous Clos de Tart, a 7.5ha (18.525 acre) vineyard in Morey-St-Denis for what is believed to be between €195 million and €225 million (or in today’s dollars between $12.92 million and $14.91 million per acre). This is a price range that can only be paid by billionaires and major corporations. At Decanter.com, Andrew Jefford writes that with land in the Grand Cru region selling for such prices, it is the end of an era for wealthy middle class wine lover who may never see a bottle of some of these wines again. He writes:
You might assume that other owners of grand cru land in Burgundy would smile broadly at the news of these spiralling land values, like Surrey home-owners who find the house they bought for £99,000 some 25 years ago is now worth a million or more.
It is, however, regarded in the region as a catastrophe, since it heralds the end of family ownership of any domaine with sizeable grand cru holdings. If family holdings are dispersed, the pressure to sell soon becomes irresistible; death duties, meanwhile, weigh heavily on concentrated holdings.
Local wine-growing families now find the purchase of grand cru land utterly beyond their means – because the true return on capital must lie many decades hence. The era of corporate and billionaire ownership in Burgundy has begun. Grand cru Burgundy is now a luxury item, like a liquid watch or very small bottled yacht.
What’s to be done? Nothing. Wealthy, middle-class wine lovers will lose the familiar use of these wines; they’ll have to settle for an occasional sniff and mouthful at a grand tasting, which is all that most of us have known anyway. The quality of grand cru wines will improve; grateful critics will line up to bestow pointless scores and gushy notes on them (pointless because they’ll all be on allocation in any case). Domaine visits will become ever harder to get.
There will, though, be trickle-down benefits for the quality of Burgundy as a whole, while local families won’t be eased out of the region altogether: billionaire owners are never going to bother with village wines, or with less prestigious premiers crus.
Read more here.
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