The French far-right Front National has attacked the sale of an historic Burgundy vineyard to a Chinese gambling tycoon.
It says the government should have intervened to help preserve what it called this “national treasure” for the country.
Local wine producers wanted to club together to buy the 12th century Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin and its vineyards. They offered four million euros. The Chinese buyer paid double.
“This heritage is being sold off at abnormally high prices. In the short term and medium term we have a succession problem regarding acquisitions generally. Prices are so high that it will no longer be possible for vineyards to stay in the hands of winemakers,” said Jean-Michel Guillon of the Gevrey-Chambertin winemakers’ union.
One wine expert said he did not think hostility to the sale was due to anti-Chinese sentiment.
Unlike the Bordeaux region which has long had foreign investors, Burgundy has a tradition of relatively small estates passed down through the generations.
Josette Guyot, a neighbour of the Chateau, said:
“One of the heirs told me: ‘you know we’ll sell to the highest bidder’. That’s normal.”
Seeking to reassure locals, the Socialist mayor Jean-Claude Robert says the Chinese owner is a lover of Burgundy wine, has entrusted the running of the vineyard to a local estate and will pay lots of money to restore the Chateau.