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Lafite 2008 price rises 20% following Chinese symbol announcement

Demand for Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2008 shot up overnight yesterday, following the announcement that its bottles will be etched with the Chinese figure eight.

UK merchants are reporting selling out of the wine following the news, broken yesterday by Decanter.com, that the bottles will carry the symbol when the wine is bottled next year.

On Tuesday morning, the price of a case of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2008 was trading at £8,500 on trading platform Liv-ex. By Wednesday lunchtime it had risen to £10,160, a rise of just under 20%.

‘It’s gone bonkers,’ said Simon Staples, sales director at London merchant Berry Bros and Rudd.

‘We sold 75 cases this morning. We literally cannot buy any more of it,’ he said.

This is not the first time Lafite 2008 has seen an overnight price spike. In April 2009, the wine famously rose from £2,000 per case to £3,500 following the release of Robert Parker’s score of 98-100.

Staples said that this latest price rise represented a shift in what influences market prices. ‘It shows that it doesn’t matter what Parker says – it’s completely irrelevant. In China, this wine is now the ultimate gift you can give.’

Stephen Browett, managing director of Farr Vintners, told Decanter.com that the addition of the Chinese symbol to Lafite’s bottle would ‘add fuel to the fire of Chinese demand.’

‘This is a wine that we sold at £1,950 en primeur 18 months ago and it reached £9,000 recently. As a result of the announcement it has hit £10,000 a case and we are out of stock,’ he said.

Browett said he expected the recently traded wine to be sold on quickly to Chinese buyers, once it is bottled.

‘Certainly almost everyone who buys it is Chinese or an investor planning to sell it to China, once it becomes physically available in the New Year,’ he added.

Sam Gleave, sales director at Bordeaux Index, said the company was ‘fairly apathetic’ at the first growth’s announcement.

‘Chateau Lafite’s expansion into China is a natural progression of their brand. China will become a significant producer of fine wine in the not too distant future and Lafite are showing they are willing to take risks and enter a new market.’

‘Pure demand has already caused the price to move on our LiveTrade screen from £9,000 per case to £11,500 per case in a little less than 24 hours,’ he added.

The price rise comes just days before a Sotheby’s auction of 2000 bottles of ex-chateau Lafite, spanning vintages from 1869 to 2008, is due to take place in Hong Kong.

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Written by John Abbott

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