Lafite: selling a Chinese wine in 2018?

Domain of Penglai
Hillside vines of Domain of Penglai. ©DBR(Lafite)

A few days ago, Decanter revealed unpublished information on the upcoming commercialization of the first Chinese vintage of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). This announcement encouraged us to push the investigation a little further…

After Chile and Argentina, Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) conquers China! A country that the group knows well, and for a long time: Christophe Salin, its CEO does not spare his energy to travel the world – especially China – allowing people to discover and taste the wines from Château Lafite, the most prestigious name for Chinese connoisseurs. But since April 2009, the DBR group has taken a new step, with the official announcement of a project in China, in partnership with the national CITIC group. Baron Eric de Rothschild emphasized the importance of this project in a country where interest in fine wines grows every year a little more. After much research, it was the peninsular province of Shandong that was chosen to host the Domain of Penglai. Its vineyard history, climate and geology justify planting the first 25 hectares on hillsides.

Shandong province is circled in red on the map.

DBR (Lafite) has just established itself in the Shandong region, which has a temperate climate. The brief rainy episodes are followed by beautiful sunny spells and the late autumn has been very pleasant in recent years. Conversely, the most famous Chinese wine region, Ningxia, experienced heavy rains and hail in 2016. The year 2016 is a turning point for Domain of Penglai, according to its official harvesting report. The fourth harvest of the domain has a physiological balance and a yield quality way above the previous purely experimental three harvests. The 50hl/ha yields are close to the French average and suggest a good production capacity. Of the 25 hectares already planted, 18 are in production combining Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Marselan (a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache). An additional 25 hectares could be planted in 2018 if the analyses support the quality of the terroir. Indeed, at the group’s request, an area of ​​400 hectares located around the domain has been kept exclusively for farming since 2008 by the Chinese government. DBR wants to protect itself against any industrial site nearby, with the risks of pollution that such a project could imply.

2016, first vintage produced at Domain of Penglai, should see the light of the day in autumn 2018. Realistic information given the quality of the harvest, even though the group reserves the right to confirm this commercialization beginning 2018.

No information has leaked for the moment on the wine itself, which will be primarily addressed to Chinese amateurs. If Christophe Salin refuses to give the name of the future label, the ambition of producing a great wine is there, Rothschild of course… While waiting to have China in our glasses, let’s drink what the house already produces best, a very French Château Lafite Rotschild!

Domain of Penglai, 2016 Harvest Report:

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