The underside of Sarkozy’s arrival in the wine business

The news came 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 winery. The case deserves an explanation.

It was his friend Stéphane Courbit (LOV Groupe) who convinced Nicolas Sarkozy, 67, and his wife Carla Bruni to take a stake in 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 from the 18th century of 1,500 square meters, the property has over 200 hectares of land, 20 of which are planted with vines and 120 with olive trees.

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

Reds, whites and rosés

On the wine side, it produces red, rosé and white wines in the Baux de Provence, Côteaux d’Aix and Alpilles appellations, as well as rosés under the Roseblood trade mark 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 disclose the size of the transaction, but a person with had access to the file had announced the amount of 40 million euros. The former head of state and Carla Bruni would now own 25% of the castle, the valuation of which is not known. Neither the head of LOV Groupe nor Nicolas Sarkozy’s secretariat responded to the requests from Challenges.

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In an interview at the 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 only likes the smell of wine, he doesn’t like the taste, and I think he doesn’t like to let go either. Maybe it’s a good thing. My husband is so alive. If he had tasted drunk, I don’t know where we’d be. (laughs)”

In short, it’s a business like any other, but probably much more promising than most businesses. 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 commercial brands alongside their own production. . By putting a prestigious label 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 will make 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’re Brad Pitt”. The American actor goes much further, as his cuvée Muse, produced in his Château de Miraval (Var), is sold exclusively in magnums at a price of 340 euros per bottle! It may seem exorbitant, but it is a price that customers of the luxury restaurants of the Côte d’Azur, the beaches of Saint-Tropez and the palaces find perfectly acceptable.

But another powerful lucrative lever intervenes. It is currently working miracles in rosé wines: it celebrity marketing. By connecting the name of a star with a wine, you create desire among customers and you can raise the price significantly. The phenomenon is such that one can 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 in 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 his Rosé Garcia as a joke but generates very serious income…

Contrary to what one might think, the star of Estoublon is Carla Bruni and not her husband with a prestigious background. Still in high demand by luxury brands, the 54-year-old former model enjoys a strong international reputation. After becoming a lyricist, she has 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 Château d’Estoublon is a source of inspiration for her when writing her songs. She is creating the legend that will make it possible to sell wine at a higher price and is inspired by Miraval, who constantly brings in rock stars from his studio history to surround his products with a halo of magic.

Nicolas Sarkozy, for his part, is also involved in the project. Administrator of the Accor and Barrière groups, he will not have to make a great effort so that the sommeliers and wine merchants in the many restaurants of these tourism giants can add Estoublon to their menus. He is an advisor to the airline group Corsair and the travel group Marietton, and 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 to prison terms in the first instance. Although his employees are close friends, the world of business is not necessarily more tender than politics. Not sure they can maintain business relations with his fate as a litigator was to deteriorate further.

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