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AXA Millésimes buys Sonoma’s Platt Vineyard for ‘exceptional’ Pinot terroir

AXA Millésimes has acquired Sonoma’s Platt Vineyard for its “exceptional terroir for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay”, which the group said was of a similar quality to its vineyards in Burgundy.

Platt Vineyard located on the far western reaches of California’s Sonoma Coast. Picture credit: George Rose

Referring to the group’s estate in the Côte de Nuits, Domaine de l’Arlot, Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, said that he believed that Platt Vineyard, which is located in Sonoma Coast, had a combination of climate and soil that was so good for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, that it was on a par with its vineyards in Burgundy.

AXA Millésimes bought Platt Vineyard from Russian River Partners – a vineyard investment fund managed by Eric Flanagan, of Flanagan Wines in Healdsburg – which has owned the Sonoma property since 2015.

Russian River Partners had acquired the vineyard, estate and a house from the founder of Platt Vineyards, the late Lew Platt, who had planted the property in 2003.

Lew had been a former CEO of Hewlett Packard and Boeing, as well as an executive at Jackson Family Wines, before retiring to plant the estate, which is five miles from the Pacific Ocean.

According to information sent to the drinks business this morning, it was stated that Russian River Partners had invested in the vineyard over the past seven years to produce “the very highest quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay”, for “a number of top winemakers in the region”.

Platt consists of 275 acres, of which 38.8 acres are planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with permits in place for a further 11 vineyard acres.

Commenting on AXA’s acquisition of the Platt Vineyard, Seely said, “After acquiring the great Cabernet vineyards of Outpost Winery at the summit of Howell Mountain in 2018, we had been looking in the United States for a vineyard of similar quality for making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Our attention was drawn to the exceptional quality of the terroir of Platt vineyard by Thomas Rivers Brown, who is and has been for many years our Consultant Winemaker at Outpost Vineyard. He has been making outstanding Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays at Rivers-Marie from grapes he has been buying from Platt for several years. After tasting these wines and after several visits to Platt we were convinced that this was the site we had been looking for.”

Continuing, Seely said, “Since 1987 we have owned and managed Domaine de l’Arlot in Burgundy, a 37 acre property of mostly Premier Cru terroir in Nuits St Georges and Premier Cru in Vosne Romanée and Grand Cru Romanée St Vivant. Also since 1987 we have owned and managed Château Pichon Baron in Pauillac. We originally made our first investment in California at Outpost Vineyard because as producers of one of the great Cabernet based wines of the world at Château Pichon Baron, we were convinced that this Howell Mountain site was also one of the great Cabernet terroirs of the world. The logic is the same with our acquisition of Platt Vineyard, which all our experience at Domaine de l’Arlot leads us to believe is a similarly exceptional terroir for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.”

Noting that Platt Vineyard sits on Goldridge fine sandy loam, covering an ancient sea bed, around 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Seely recorded that Thomas Rivers Brown has described this part of the Freestone bench as “slowly becoming the greatest area for Pinot on the Sonoma Coast”.

Concluding, Seely said, “We believe that the potential for making great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines here is immense, and we look forward to working with Thomas and with Frank Dotzler and all our outstanding team at Outpost to develop this potential and make some outstanding wines here in years to come.”

AXA Millésimes, which is the wine business of AXA insurance, has a range of properties in France, Hungary, Portugal and the US, including Château Suduiraut, Quinta de Noval, Domaine de l’Arlot, Château Pichon Baron, Disznókö; Château Pibran; Outpost, and from today, Platt Vineyard.

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