The seven-year relationship between Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Summergate collapsed because DBR wanted a stake in the Chinese importer, Decanter.com can confirm.
Summergate was not prepared to sell any of its equity, the firm’s managing partner Ian Ford told Decanter.com.
‘It was an unfortunate divergence of strategy,’ he said. DBR was intent on an equity stake and control over their distribution in China, while Summergate’s ‘vision of the future’ was to remain independent.
They could not remain DBR’s distributors having refused it a share in the company, Ford said.
‘Clearly we took the decision not to sell any stake to DBR with full knowledge we were going to part ways. It was a long-considered decision.’
Ford said they had had ‘a very successful partnership’, and that DBR was ‘a fantastic brand’, but he insisted ‘there is a lot of space for a lot of big brands in China.’
In particular he said Summergate was focussing on Burgundy.
Noting that the Burgundy trade body the BIVB had earmarked €400,000 for a concerted campaign in the China market, Ford said he had ‘plans with two companies in local regions to market and distribute Burgundy in very significant amounts in 2011.’
At present Summergate works with Bouchard Pere et Fils, and has allocations for Domaine Armand Rousseau, Domaine Ramonet and Domaine Meo-Camuzet.
Ford said Burgundy and Italy – in particular Tuscany – were the two regions apart from Bordeaux that were poised to take off in China.
‘They are very interesting categories. The Chinese like Bordeaux because it has history, prestige, rarety and high prices. Italy and Burgundy fit that profile exactly.’
DBR, which is now distributed by ASC Fine Wines, has no comment, a spokesman told Decanter.com.
Written by Adam Lechmere