The underside of Sarkozy’s arrival in the wine business

The news comes as a bit of a surprise. The only President of the Republic in history who dared to affirm that he never drank wine, became a shareholder in a vineyard. The case deserves some explanation.

It was his friend Stéphane Courbit (LOV Groupe) who convinced Nicolas Sarkozy, 67, and his wife Carla Bruni, to take a stake in the Château d’Estoublon. This is a magnificent property located in Fontvieille (Bouches du Rhône), in the valley of Les Baux de Provence. In addition to a residence dating from the 18th century of 1,500 square meters, the property has 200 hectares of land, 20 of which are planted with vines and 120 with olive trees.

The house has ten luxury suites, recently renovated. It is very popular for weddings and business seminars. As far as production in organic farming is concerned, it has developed luxury olive oils, sold between 37 and more than 200 euros per liter for those offered in “couture” vaporizers which are singularly reminiscent of perfume vaporizers from luxury .

Reds, whites and rosés

On the vine side, it produces red, rosé and white wines in the Baux de Provence, Côteaux d’Aix and Alpilles appellations, as well as under the Roseblood trading brand, rosés in the Mediterranean wine appellation. This brand has great potential.

When he bought Estoublon in 2019 from the Swiss Reboul-Schneider family, Stéphane Courbit, associated with the family of Bordeaux winegrowers Prats (ex-Cos d’Estournel), did not reveal the amount of the transaction but a person with had access to the file had announced the sum of 40 million euros. The former head of state and Carla Bruni would now hold 25% of the castle, the valuation of which is not known. Neither the boss of LOV Groupe, nor the secretariat of Nicolas Sarkozy reacted to the requests of Challenges.

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In an interview at Gala in July, Carla Bruni answered questions about wine and her husband. He doesn’t drink it but he likes it. “He smelled it, tasted it and spat it out. He likes the scent of wine only, he doesn’t like the taste and I think he doesn’t like letting go either. Maybe it’s a good thing. My husband is so vibrant. If he had tasted drunk, I don’t know where we would be. (laughs)”

In short, it’s a business like any other, but probably much more promising than most businesses. In order to respond to the undeniable craze for luxury rosés in France but also in most European countries and in the United States, the big names in Provençal appellations have almost all developed trading brands alongside their own production. . By placing a prestigious mark on wines produced by others, it is possible to multiply their value by 10 or 20.

Rosé, a golden model

A winemaker explains this model that makes you dream: “to produce a rosé wine, it costs 3 to 3.50 euros per bottle, but then, depending on your marketing skills, you can resell it for 6 euros, 18 euros or 40 euros if you are Brad Pitt”. The American actor goes much further since his cuvée Muse, produced in his Château de Miraval (Var) is sold exclusively in magnums, at the price of 340 euros per bottle! It may seem exorbitant, but it’s a price that customers of luxury restaurants on the Côte d’Azur, the beaches of Saint-Tropez and palaces find perfectly acceptable.

But another powerful lever for profit intervenes. It is currently working miracles in rosé wines: the celebrity marketing. By associating the name of a star with a wine, you create desire among customers and you can greatly increase the price. The phenomenon is such that one might even wonder how some winegrowers still dare to sell rosé without it being associated with a star. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had shown the way at Miraval, but George Lucas (Margüi), George Clooney (Canadel), Ridley Scott (Mas des Infermières), Patrick Bruel (Domaine Leos), Tony Parker (La Mascaronne, La Lauzade), Kylie Minogue (Sainte-Roseline)… to comedian José Garcia who launched her son Rosé Garcia as a joke but who generated very serious income…

Contrary to what one might think, in Estoublon, the star is Carla Bruni and not her husband with a prestigious background. The 54-year-old former model, still in high demand by luxury brands, has a strong international reputation. Having become a singer with texts, she in the image of an elegant, intellectual, loving, free woman… enough to attract many followers to her wine. No doubt, she is an influencer. The icing on the cake, being Italian is a huge plus when talking about gastronomy and good wine, even in France.

Building a legend

A great expert in the art of communication, the former first lady has already explained how much the Château d’Estoublon is a source of inspiration for her when she writes her songs. She is in the process of creating the legend that will make it possible to sell wine at a higher price and is inspired by Miraval, who constantly draws rock stars from her studio history to surround her products with a halo of magic.

For his part, Nicolas Sarkozy is also involved in the project. Administrator of the Accor and Barrière groups, he will not have to make much effort for the sommeliers and wine merchants of the very many restaurants of these tourism giants to add Estoublon to their menus. Adviser to the Corsair airline group and the Marietton travel group, he is also well placed to promote his bottles in these strategic sectors.

The only downside is that the ex-president has been living for several months at the pace of the courts. He has already been sentenced at first instance to terms including imprisonment. Even if his associates are close friends, the business world is not asked to be more tender than that of politics. Not sure that they allow to maintain business relations with him.i his fate as a litigant was to deteriorate further.

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