These are the millionaire giants that the small independent family wine producer have to compete against. They have the power and the distribution networks to take over markets. They are driving out the small Producer who makes their money uniquely from selling wine. Bordeaux is no longer a level playing field.
Bernard Arnault of LVMH – owner of Hennessy, Moët et Chandon and Chateau Yquem – continues to head up the list of wealthiest wine owners in France, according to the second annual roundup published in Challenges magazine this week.
Picture: Bernard Arnault
His fortune is listed at €1.5 billion, a slight rise from last year due to the appreciation in the value of his vines. Arnault (through LVMH) also owns half of Chateau Cheval Blanc with his friend and business associate Albert Frère, the wealthiest man in Belgium.
The Castel family, headed up by Pierre Castel and owners of Castel Freres and 50% of Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau Beaumont, négociant company Barrière Frères and wine merchants Nicolas is listed in second place, with a fortune of €875 million.
Coming in third is Frédéric Rouzaud of Champagne Roederer, owner of Chateau Pichon Longueville among others, with an €800 million fortune, just in front of Philippine de Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild with €750 million.
Francois Pinault of Chateau Latour, Chateau Grillet and Domaine d’Eugénie comes in sixth at €700 million, with fellow First Growth owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos of Chateau Margaux at number 6, with an estimated fortune of €600 million.
The rest of the top 10 places go to Christian and Jean-Francois Moeuix (counted together, although their companies are in fact separate) with €550 million, Bernard Magrez of Chateau Pape Clement with €525 million, and Michel Reybier of Cos d’Estournel with Benjamin de Rothschild, of Chateau Clarke, each listed with a fortune of €450 million.
Each owner within the top 10 has seen a rise in estimated net worth over the past 12 months, due to the rises in land values seen in their appellations.
The Challenges article lists the top 50 wine-related fortunes, and other notable figures include Gerard Perse of Chateau Pavie at 12 (€375 million), Jean-Hubert Delon of Léoville Las Cases at 14 (€320 million) and Jean-Michel Cazes of Lynch Bages in 20th spot (€260 million).
Baron Eric de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite Rothschild makes an appearance at number 24, alongside both Jean Merlaut of Gruaud Larose and Martin and Olivier Bouygues of Chateau Montrose, all with an estimated net worth of €260 million.
At the lower reaches of the Top 50 come Daniel and Florence Cathiard of Smith Haut Lafitte at 45 with €170 million, and Didier Cuvelier of Léoville Poyferré at number 50 with a mere €145 million.