Chanel Wades Deeper Into the Wine Biz

The luxury fashion brand has purchased a new French vineyard, signaling that rosé is still haute!


Photo by: macarosha ©macarosha

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When you think of Chanel, you probably think pink: pink suits, pink purses, pink perfume. Soon you may be adding another pink to that list: pink wine.

The French fashion house has just purchased a wine estate, Domaine de L’Ile, on Porquerolles -- an island off the south of France known for its lush vineyards, not to mention its pleasant climate and beautiful beaches. (Much of the island, including part of the Domaine de L’Ile estate, has been designated as a national park.)

The luxury brand is not exactly a newcomer to the wine business. It has, in recent years, taken ownership ofthree vineyards in Bordeaux (Chateau Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux, Chateaux Canon and Berliquet in St.-Emilion) and one in Napa Valley (St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery in Rutherford, California).

The Domaine de L’Ile acquisition seems especially on brand and on trend, however, because the winery is famous for its Côtes de Provence rosé wine. Planted with grape varieties such as grenache, cinsault, syrah, mourvèdre, tibouren and rolle, the vineyard produces primarily rosé wine: About 80 percent of Domaine de L’Ile’s wines are rosé, while about 15 to 20 percent are white wines and the remainder are red, according to the French site Terre de Vins.

The Chanel group’s acquisition of the historic estate, which was founded by Francois-Joseph Fournier, a Belgian who got rich on gold in Mexico and bought it around 1912 as a wedding present for his young wife and planted 200 hectares (about 500 acres) of vineyard, took two years to finalize. Fournier’s grandson, Sébastien Le Ber, who has overseen the estate for the past 40 years, will retain a minority, 10 percent stake in the property as "to preserve" the family’s "historical link," Terre de Vins reports.

"The idea is to continue the incredible work Sébastien has been doing," Nicolas Audebert, general director of Chanel's wine properties, told Wine Spectator. "His choice to sell to us was because we aren't coming in with a different plan."

The current plan is for the estate’s overall structure and output to stay essentially the same, although the proportions of the wines it produces may change, Audebert said. Chanel, when it takes over, may lean a bit more heavily into whites and retreat a bit from reds. The property’s emphasis on rosé, however, will remain. Why mess with a classic?

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