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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

Marchesi di Frescobaldi, the historic Tuscan wine producer, has repurchased from Constellation Brands its 50% share of Luce della Vite. Luce della Vite is the joint venture established in Montalcino in the 1990s by Frescobaldi with Mondavi. When Constellation Brands bought out Mondavi, the latter's share fell to the Americans. Apparently the Frescobaldis were none too comfortable with this and have now re-established the previous status quo, passing the repossessed quota on to Michael Mondavi, winemaker son of Robert. Frescobaldi has, however, retained an option on 15% of Mondavi's shares, presumably in case things go pear-shaped again. With this operation, Frescobaldi has reclaimed half of the previous partnership, the other half consisting of Ornellaia. Michael Mondavi, for his part, has set up a company whose purpose is to invest in niche wine producers (such as Luce della Vite, which produces 1.5 million bottles, most of them sold in the US). The president of Frescobaldi, Marchese Vittorio, declared himself happy' with the acquisition, but was keeping quiet on whatever dealings may be happening in respect of Ornellaia.