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Lafite makes historic move into China – EXCLUSIVE

In a historic move, Bordeaux first growth Chateau Lafite is developing a vineyard in China.

The renowned Pauillac estate has gone into partnership with CITIC, China’s largest state-owned investment company, to develop 25ha of vines in the peninsula of Penglai in Shandong province.

Shandong province is regarded as one of China’s most promising wine-growing regions. The Penglai peninsula, about 800km north of Shanghai, is on its easternmost tip.

With some 10,000ha of vineyards, the area is already home to many well-established wine companies producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Some commentators are referring to the peninsula, 95% of whose wines are consumed domestically, as ‘China’s Bordeaux.’

Chateau Lafite has an extraordinary reputation in China – so much so that the property’s second wine, Carruades de Lafite, commands the same price as other first growths such as Haut Brion.

In a statement, Domaines Barons de Rothschild – Chateau Lafite’s parent company – said, ‘Having visited many regions in China the technicians of DBR finally chose this peninsula as it proved to be the most promising area to produce a great wine, in terms of both its climatic and geographical conditions.’

Lafite proprietor Baron Eric de Rothschild said he was particularly excited to be part of the creation of what he called an ‘exceptional Chinese Grand Cru.’

‘I am very pleased to develop a vineyard in a country where the interest in fine wines is increasing every year.’

By 2011, the Chinese are expected to be drinking more than 1.1bn bottles of wine or 828m litres of wine a year, double the figure in 2007, according to a study by the International Wine and Spirit Record in London.

Decanter’s publishing director Sarah Kemp said, ‘With Chateau Lafite committing to making fine wine in China, it creates the possibility of the future map of the wine world being redrawn.’

Domaines Barons de Rothschild has a track record of pioneering ventures around the world. As well as its Bordeaux properties it has prestigious estates in the Languedoc – Chateau d’Aussieres, Vina Los Vascos in Chile and Bodegas Caro in Argentina, whose 2005 vintage won International Red Blend Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards last year.

Picture: Domaines Barons de Rothschild CEO Christophe Salin signs the agreement in China (courtesy of www.JiaoDong.net)

Written by Adam Lechmere

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