On Friday 15th October 2021 Ivan Massonnat realised a vinous dream that predates his Belargus project in Anjou when he signed the contract to purchase Domaine de Beauséjour (Appellation Chinon) in Panzoult. The commune of Panzoult is in the eastern end of the Chinon appellation on the north side of the valley of the Vienne. Beauséjour is a handsome property on the road between Cravant-les-Coteaux and Panzoult. On the other side of Panzoult Baudry-Dutour, Chinon's largest estate, has their winery and offices.
Ivan, who has had a second home in the Chinon area for 15 years, had tried to buy Beauséjour in 2016 but the negotiations, which lasted nearly a year, were ultimately fruitless. Instead Ivan embarked on his Chenin Blanc adventure – Domaine Belargus in Anjou.
Beauséjour has been created by the Chauveau family, especially by Gérard Chauveau. His father Dr Jacques Chauveau bought a simple farm in 1951. However, it didn't become a domaine viticole until 1968 when Jacques' son Gérard, an architect and town planner, inherited the property. He planted the first vines the following year and then slowly built the estate up to its current size – 100 hectares in one continuous plot, which is certainly unusual in the Loire and elsewhere in many parts of France, where it is customary for farmers to have lots of different parcels of land. The estate now has 27 hectares of vines facing south across the valley of the Vienne, 50 hectares of forest and the rest as fields.
In 1995 David Chauveau, Gérard's son became responsible for wine-making and three years later in 1998 took over the running of Beauséjour with his mother Marie-Claude. In late February 2021 Gérard Chauveau died at 95. The family sought a buyer to continue the work of Gérard and contact with Ivan was resumed. Although there were apparently a number of interested parties, the Chauveaus chose to reach agreement with Ivan. They will continue to be involved with David Chauveau as co-manager and Marie-Claude has the right to stay in the family home for the rest of her life.
The purchase of Beauséjour will allow Ivan in two years' time to give up his high finance life in Paris where he is a partner in PAI Partners, a venture capital and private equity company, and become of full-time vigneron.
Ivan sees Beauséjour as a long-term project as he explains:
'Un projet global, un projet de vie.
Ce projet, son « Premier Amour », préfigure la reconversion d’Ivan dans le monde du vin.
Pour Ivan, tout est question d’équilibre ! Quand il aura tourné la page de sa « vie parisienne », il pourra ainsi se concentrer sur 2 projets complémentaires : Belargus et Beauséjour, le Chenin et le Cabernet Franc, les schistes et le calcaire, l’Anjou et la Touraine...
A Beauséjour, le chantier est immense : Ivan souhaite donc s’inscrire dans le temps (très) long. Les premières années seront uniquement consacrées à un travail de fond sur le vignoble et à sa conversion en bio.'
In a nice piece of symmetry Ivan and his wife bought their Chinon maison secondaire from Madame Chauveau's niece...!
In the short time (since 2018) Ivan has been involved in Anjou Ivan has already made a considerable impression, Beauséjour looks to be another exciting project – this time red with Cabernet Franc balanced by Chenin Blanc in Anjou, although perhaps there might some day be space for some Chenin Blanc plantings on a clay-limestone slope at Panzoult...
Meanwhile in Anjou plans for a new Belargus winery are advancing.