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Subject: Jean-Pierre Moueix, 89, French Wine Figure

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Date Posted: April 11, 2003 4:06:28 EDT

Jean-Pierre Moueix, a Bordeaux wine merchant and chateau owner who first made the world aware of what is now one of the most fabled of that region's properties, Château Pétrus, died on March 28 at his home in Libourne, 20 miles east of Bordeaux. He was 89 and had been retired from the family business since 1978.

The Moueix family, natives of the hardscrabble Corrèze region of eastern France, migrated westward to the Bordeaux region in the years after World War I and entered the wine trade. Mr. Moueix's father, Jean, bought the run-down Château Fonroque in St.-Émilion in 1930. Seven years later, Jean-Pierre began the family business, Établissements J. P. Moueix (pronounced moh-EX) in Libourne. Gradually he became known as the leading négociant, or broker and shipper, of the wines of St.-Émilion and Pomerol, the two most important wine towns adjoining Libourne.

In 1945, he became the sole agent for Château Pétrus, in Pomerol, then virtually unknown outside Bordeaux, parts of northern France and Belgium. In 1964, he bought a half-interest in the property and, aware of its exceptional quality, promoted it tirelessly for the rest of his career. It is now managed by his son and successor, Christian.

In the 1950's, Mr. Moueix began acquiring other chateaus, including Trotanoy, LaFleur-Pétrus and LaGrange, in Pomerol, and Magdeleine, in St.-Émilion. In the 1970's and 1980's, the firm expanded into Fronsac, an area north of Libourne, acquiring the Canon, Canon de Brem and Canon-Moueix chateaus, among others. Most of the Fronsac properties were later sold.

In 1956, Mr. Moueix acquired the négociant firm of Duclot in the city of Bordeaux, mainly to deal with the wines of the so-called Left Bank appellations like Margaux, Pauillac and Graves.

With Duclot, the Moueix family made a late entry into the traditional Bordeaux market. They had previously confined their business to the then little-known Right Bank of the Gironde River, becoming wealthy in the process, because they had been shut out of Bordeaux itself by the blue-blood négociant houses there. The Moueix family also own Dominus, a winery and vineyard in the Napa Valley in California.

Mr. Moueix was one of the last of a generation of powerful Bordeaux wine shippers and brokers with names like Ginestet, Cruse, Eschenauer, de Luze and Calvet, dynasties whose leaders unapologetically thought of wine as an integral part of a cultured life. Like many of them, Mr. Moueix was a prominent patron of the arts, supporting the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux and the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris.

Besides having been the owner or manager of about 17 wine chateaux, including Pétrus, Mr. Moueix was an art collector and connoisseur and a devotee of French literature; his favorite poet was Corneille. On the walls of his home, Clos Videlot, on the Dordogne River, he assembled an outstanding collection that included works by Monet, Cézanne, Dufy, Picasso, Dubuffet and Francis Bacon. He bought his first drawing, by Utrillo, when he was 18.

Besides his son Christian, who divides his time between Libourne and the Napa Valley, Mr. Moueix is survived by his wife, Colette, and another son, Jean-François, who heads the Duclot firm.

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