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Jancis on Lafite

By July 16, 2008Critic Reviews

Jancis Robinson MW has written an interesting article in which she discusses the reasons behind the phenomenal success of Lafite Rothschild in Asian markets. It is not just the grand vin that enjoys a great following in the region, but the second wine Carruades de Lafite as well as the company's large stable of generic Bordeaux brands. The article, 'The Legend of Lafite' is free to everyone and can be found here.

Robinson feels this popularity is not just to do with Lafite's taste: 'Its very dry, almost austere, racy, elegant style must be particularly difficult for newcomers to wine, and torture to drink with most of the food served in China – whether it be the sweet, sour, spicy foods of the various Chinese provinces, or the rich, truffle and foie gras-laden cuisine of the fancy hotels and restaurants at which most bottles of Lafite must be opened by China’s mushrooming millionaire class."

According to Ian Ford, head of Summergate of Shanghai, an importer of the brand, the actual reasons behind its popularity are quite simple: "They were in at the beginning. Lafite president Christophe Salin’s first trip here was in 1992. The word Lafite translates phonetically especially well,and the Lafite Rothschilds have been very attentive to the Chinese market. Baron Eric de Rothschild’s son is studying Mandarin. They also have a very good Chinese website.”

As Robinson states: 'So, there you have it folks. To develop a new market, get there first, have an easy name – and don’t forget the website."

Below is a selection of prices for Lafite and Carruades de Lafite. As you can see, both have performed extremely well, although it is the more affordable baby brother that has seen the largest increases.

  Vintage    Jun-07    Jun-08   % increase
  Carruades de Lafite    2000 £680  £1,550      127.9
  Carruades de Lafite    2005 £650  £1,271      95.5
  Lafite    2005 £4,600  £8,900      93.5
  Carruades de Lafite    2003 £720  £1,300      80.6
  Carruades de Lafite    1996 £750  £1,350      80.0
  Lafite    2000 £7,800  £10,750      37.8
  Lafite    1996 £6,526  £7,400      13.4
  Lafite    2003 £6,400  £7,200      12.5