La part des anges, a pretty expression to designate the volume of alcohol that evaporates during the aging of the wine in barrels.
In recent months, it is the devil who has come to quench his thirst in the cellars of Château Beauséjour, a premier grand cru classé from Saint-Emilion.
This week, Safer, the company responsible for organizing agricultural land under the supervision of the State, must say who will return the prestigious vineyard.
Three families covet the seven hectare plot of Duffau-Lagarrosse and the imminence of the decision is heating up the spirits.
In the holy of holies of Bordeaux wines, transactions are not rare but always exceptional.
The wine-growing castle is in this case a charming Gironde building in blond stone lost in the vineyards which dominates the valley and from which we can see, it is said, the lights of Bordeaux.
In the 15th century, the monks had settled there.
A sign that does not deceive on the tranquility and the beauty of the place.
In November, the Cuveliers won with an offer of 68 million euros
On November 7, the Cuveliers thought they had won the day.
At the end of a general meeting, the 32 Duffau-Lagarrosse heirs, holders of 1,413 shares of Beauséjour out of 1,414, voted by an overwhelming majority for the proposal of this family from the North, installed since 2001 on the top. of the plateau, at Clos-Fourtet.
The minutes drawn up at the end of the videoconference vote - Covid obliges - conclude that this offer "appears more qualitative due to its completeness, the project that underlies it, the taking into account of the aspirations of the partners and the valuation proposed ".
Mass has been said.
Matthieu Cuvelier, the son, had been leading the negotiations for several months.
Philippe, his father, who invested in Saint-Emilion after making his fortune in office supplies, delegated the management of the wine business to him.
Philippe and Matthieu Cuvelier.
Up his sleeve, the young quadra had two major assets: a check for 68 million euros (excluding stocks), the best financial offer, and the support of Nicolas Thienpont, one of the most influential men in the region, director of Beauséjour since 2009, for which he had obtained two “100” in the Parker ranking, the American wine guru at the time.
In addition, the winegrower manages, in addition to his own farms, two first classified growths, Pavie-Macquin and Larcis-Ducasse.
Advised, the Cuveliers have chosen to entrust the estate - if they obtain the keys - to one of his foals, Grégoire Pernot-du-Breuil, trained on his personal property.
The other two offers had been swept aside without debate.
Stéphanie de Boüard, a candidate initially ignored
René Ruello, the former president of Stade Rennais, disqualified himself by not making a firm offer.
Yet he had been courting associates for months to convince them to sell.
"By offering to buy the castle for 60 million euros almost two years ago, he introduced the cluster worm into the family," even notes an observer.
Since 1847 that the family owns the estate, the property has diluted over its nine generations.
No one lives in the castle anymore and the pretty residence only occasionally hosts celebrations or family councils.
Most of the Duffau-Lagarrosse now have only a loose link with their land and the small members are easily lured by the prospect of a great financial tumble.
The price per hectare has multiplied by three or four in a few years.
But when the time came, Ruello no longer had the means to fulfill his ambitions.
Converted into the food industry, the ex-player from La Rochelle took the Covid crisis head-on.
Stéphanie de Boüard.
PhotoPQR / South West / Stéphane Klein
The indifference aroused by Stéphanie de Boüard's candidacy is both more surprising and more… humiliating.
Like the Duffau-Lagarrosse, the family roots of the young woman have always run on the limestone and clay hillside of Saint-Emilion.
In 2012, with a solid financial background, she managed Angélus, one of the star chateaux of the vineyard.
The best vintages of “James Bond wine”, so baptized because it appears in several episodes of the saga, are negotiated between 600 and 800 euros per bottle.
Stéphanie is the daughter of Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, the architect of the success of the Premier Grand Cru Classé A, which owes as much to the organoleptic qualities of its wine as to its marketing and commercial genius.
Man is both feared and envied.
He is given the support of powerful and occult networks.
End of act one.
La Safer enters the scene ... as well as one of the heiresses
Once the choice of Cuveliers had been made, the Duffau-Lagarrosse and their buyers decided to entrust the sale to Safer.
By bypassing it, both parties feared that the organization would exercise its right of pre-emption.
This would have delayed a transaction initiated since the summer.
In addition, this option offered sellers a favorable tax regime.
By taking up the file, Safer takes the place of the seller and must proceed to a new call for tenders.
It was at this point that the affair took on the appearance of wine-growing Dallas.
Evicted during the first round of table, Stéphanie de Boüard is once again in line by aligning with the price of Cuvelier.
She was quickly imitated by a new competitor, Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse, one of the heiresses of Beauséjour.
Winemaker in the Médoc, the thirty-something runs one of the Bernard Magrez group's farms.
The young woman is the daughter of Vincent, one of the four co-managers of the castle.
It was she who, during the summer, had shown Stéphanie de Boüard a tour of the property.
The two women find themselves in competition.
On November 7, Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse abstained in the vote which voted in favor of the Cuvelier offer.
"I did not approve of this sale but I had no power to oppose it at the time," she says today, annoyed by the accusations of duplicity to which she is the object.
I have never played double games and I am no one's Trojan horse.
My grandparents lived and worked there.
They are buried in the cemetery which adjoins the property.
All my childhood memories are here and I am a winegrower.
It is normal that I fight to keep this area in the family.
It has been in the hands of the Duffau-Lagarrosse for over a century and a half ”.
At the start of the year, Joséphine found investors to support her project.
She convinced Prisca Courtin, another heiress, daughter of one of the founders of the Clarins group, one of the European heavyweights in cosmetics, to come to Saint-Emilion.
The Courtins would thus make their first foray into wine.
Spectacular turn of events
Joséphine has the name and a strong character.
Prisca Courtin has the money.
This express marriage allowed him to submit
his application at the last
, in February.
The nature of the contract between the young farmer and the entrepreneur has not been revealed.
Alas, on March 18, the technical committee of Safer rejected his project.
Just like that of the Cuveliers, official candidates of the owners, to finally retain the proposal of… Stéphanie de Boüard.
The various competitors are informed by mail.
“A simple unfavorable opinion, explains, annoyed, Matthieu Cuvelier.
Since then, I have tried in vain to have an explanation and a motivation.
Nobody answers me.
La Safer is for absent subscribers.
Sipa / Laurent Benhamou
Normally, the conditions for granting a farm are precise and highly codified, with hierarchical priorities according to their importance concerning the quality of the entrepreneur, young farmer or not, and the terms of his project.
The eliminated candidates have every intention of knowing if Stéphanie de Boüard's file meets these criteria.
War is declared.
At the same time, they discover the existence of a fourth contender, Juliette Bécot.
The owner of Beau-Sejour Bécot requested and obtained 60 ares of land.
It thus recovers a landlocked surface on its own land.
The two "Beauséjour" were only one in the past.
It is necessary to have crossed the small paths crossing the vines to understand the interweaving of the properties one in the other.
Each plot is worth gold, arouses envy and unleashes passions ...
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Since the revelation of the opinion of the Safer technical committee, radio vine has been running in a loop.
The de Boüards would have used their support and their networks to obtain such a turnaround.
Suspected of acting on behalf of her father, Stéphanie de Boüard would have only one objective: to annex Beauséjour in order to extend the surface of Angelus ...
The epilogue is approaching but the suspense remains
Communication officers refute such designs and affirm that she wishes to settle in Beauséjour to live there with her family and develop the name of the castle.
She co-manages Angélus, of which she is only a minority shareholder.
Its lawyers have given notice to one of its competitors, the Cuvelier family, to stop the rumors, otherwise they would face a defamation complaint.
The board of directors of Safer must meet in the middle of the week to validate or not the opinion of the technical committee.
He should have already done so on March 25, but the meeting was postponed.
This time, radio vigne understands that Safer could throw in the towel and return his file to the family.
This would deprive the organization of 2 million euros, the amount of rights negotiated for the realization of the sale, and would leave a doubt on the impartiality of its opinions ... The epilogue is approaching but the suspense remains.
We will have to wait for the next episode of this Dallas in Beauséjour to know if the heiress will take over his castle or if he will come under the control of one of his rich neighbors.