July 22, 2008
Bottle Shock, The Sequel

Michel Reybier, owner of the Bordeaux estate Chateau Cos d'Estournel, has confirmed that he is negotiating with the Jim Barrett family to buy Napa Valley's Chateau Montelena. In a press release issued a short time ago, Reybier indicated the sale is near and pends only regulatory approval. No price was disclosed, nor did Reybier say what regulatory issues are involved in the transaction. One possible hitch could be that regulations in the United States prohibit wine producers from having a vested interest in distributing wines, including wholesalers, restaurants and retailers, and Reybier's properties include a resort in Geneva with three restaurants.

Jim Barrett, who acquired Chateau Montelena in 1972, is quoted in the release as saying: "This is a perfect fit - a dream marriage. We could not have asked for a finer team to carry on this legacy."

His son, Bo Barrett, who has made the wines at Chateau Montelena since 1982, "will continue to provide the essential knowledge and experience gained from 35 years of living and working on the estate," but the press release isn't clear on who will be in charge of winemaking once the sale concludes. "Michel Reybier understands that it takes time and continuity to learn the true qualities of each place. He understands the importance of continuity, commitment and experience in making world-class wine," said Bo Barrett in the press release.

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