Two Médoc chateaux in trouble

Thursday August 31 2017 by Vitisphere

The staff at Médoc chateaux Clos des Quatre Vents with its 7 hectares in Margaux and the 21-hectare Château Bonneau in Avensan, Gironde, have not got much to smile about. Faced with absentee management and late wages, four of the nine people who work at the Clos des Quatre Vents have apparently taken the matter to the industrial tribunal, according to insider information gleaned by Vitisphere.

In 2014, both properties belonging to Belgian national Luc Thienpont were bought by the Chinese investment fund Liaoning Energy Investment which already owned 500 hectares of vines in northern China. The change of ownership got off to a good start. Lina Fan, who came to France in 2003 and holds a masters degree in wine marketing and management from the Inseec school of commerce, became both properties’ managing director with Eric Boissenot as winemaker. The same staff stayed on and Jérémie Lurton was brought in as technical director. Everything was going well.

Culture shock

But internal changes within the Chinese group would have repercussions on the way the two properties were run. “The arrival of a new executive caused a deadlock. There was an underlying battle for leadership”, claims one observer anonymously. Consequently, salary payments got later and later, work was stopped and vineyard management was reportedly not as good. The situation was further compounded by frost in 2017 at Château Bonneau. In Avensan, a neighbouring property describes the damage: “The grass is growing high. The vines are not pruned any more. The property has been abandoned”.

A vow of silence

At the Clos des Quatre Vents, people are no more talkative. “I am trying to hold things together as best I can, but there are concerns”, was the terse comment by Jérémie Lurton. Lina Fan refused to answer requests for comment by Vitisphere, despite several attempts, and many observers are even wondering whether she is still actually at the property. 


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