Chinese Sow Stakes in French Wine Country

Foreign buyers retool prominent Chateaus for exports to China
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2009 3:00 PM CDT
Helene Laguens walks past vineyards of Chateau Latour Laguens Saint-Martin du Puy, southwestern France, near Bordeaux, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008.   (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
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(Newser) – Mao wouldn't likely approve on a couple of fronts, but Chinese investors looking to introduce their countrymen to the best in wine are buying up storied chateaus in the heart of French wine country, the Washington Post reports. Two companies paid several million dollars each to own Chateau Richelieu and Chateau Latour-Laguens, with the intention of sending home high-end wines with deep roots in French history and culture.

Besides the brand, the investors have launched expensive renovations to use the chateaus as high-end hotels for China’s elite. Surprisingly for a country so long on national pride, there has been little complaint from French vintners about the foreign investors—perhaps because the burgeoning Chinese wine market is France's best hope for ending a sales slump stemming from inflated prices, US and South American competitors, and the recession. "China is the future," says one wine specialist.