Pinault Throws Pinot Gauntlet to Arnault With Burgundy Vineyard

  • Kering founder Pinault snaps up Burgundy’s Clos de Tart
  • LVMH chief Arnault already owns neighboring Clos des Lambrays

Francois Pinault intensified a rivalry with fellow French billionaire Bernard Arnault by snapping up the Clos de Tart vineyard, one of the most prestigious names in France’s Burgundy wine region.

Terms were not disclosed, but reports in the French press said the founder of luxury conglomerate Kering paid as much as 250 million euros ($290 million). The 7.5 hectare (19 acre) vineyard is next door to Clos des Lambrays, which LVMH Chief Executive Officer Arnault bought in 2014.

Francois Pinault

Photographer: Frederik Balfour/Bloomberg

Burgundy is home to some of France’s most prized vineyards, including Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, whose 1990 vintage can sell for $20,000 a bottle at auction. Arnault and Pinault compete in luxury goods, where Kering’s Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent square off against LVMH’s Louis Vuitton, and they’re jockeying for prestige in Paris with a flurry of retail and art projects.

Pinault, 81, and Arnault, 68, also control competing estates in Bordeaux, either on their own or via their companies -- Chateau Latour for the Kering founder and chateaus Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem for the LVMH chief.

Clos de Tart, which traces its history to the 12th century, is one of the biggest vineyards with a single owner in Burgundy, producing red wine from the pinot noir grape that can fetch more than $500 in a good vintage. Pinault’s Groupe Artemis is acquiring the estate, in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis, from the Mommessin family, according to a statement Friday.

Burgundy Prices

Burgundy prices have soared amid new demand from Chinese buyers, with supplies tightened by frost and other maladies that have reduced harvests. Recent buyers of vineyards in the region include U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of London’s Arsenal soccer club, who acquired the Bonneau du Martray estate. Pinault previously bought Domaine d’Eugenie in Vosne-Romanee.

The cost of Burgundy grand cru vineyards, France’s most expensive wine property, rose for a 20th year in 2016, according to agriculture ministry data. Average prices surged 15 percent to 5.5 million euros a hectare, about the size of a rugby field. Prices have more than quadrupled over the past two decades. The surge in Burgundy compares with a stagnation in Pauillac, the priciest bit of the Bordeaux wine region, and a decline last year in Champagne.

Clos de Tart is one of a patchwork of more than 1,200 named plots, some dating back to Roman times, that were declared a Unesco world heritage site in 2015.

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