Bordeaux is the new Prada (or the new shark’s fin?)

Chinese merchants and investors are planning to snap up much of the acclaimed 2009 vintage of Bordeaux wines, according to this piece in the Guardian. The article says Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Lafite-Rothschild have been called “tipple of choice for your thrusting Chinese industrialist”:

Top wines have become a prestigious gift among business people in China; a bottle of famous claret is now an essential part of entertaining government officials, Chinese merchants said. Among the middle classes, Bordeaux is also seen as a sophisticated and healthy alternative to Chinese wines, which can contain up to 40% alcohol.

The piece quotes a Hong Kong investor, Sam Yip, as saying “Everyone in China is thinking Lafite,” he said. “It is seen in the same light as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.” I can’t say I’ve ever been offered a glass of Lafite at a Chinese banquet, but I can see that it would sit rather nicely on the kind of table described to me by one Chinese chef, at a feast an entrepreneur threw for local government officials (read into that exactly what you will), alongside the abalone, shark’s fin, bird’s nest and humphead wrasse. That particular banquet, as described to me, cost the equivalent of about £8000 for one round table – so I’m sure a few grand on a bottle of wine would have been acceptable. Perhaps they were drinking Lafite anyway – the chef I spoke to only knew about the menu and the cost of the food.

Any of you got any tales of the bling factor at Chinese banquets? Or of expensive Bordeaux wines in China?

4 Responses to “Bordeaux is the new Prada (or the new shark’s fin?)”

  1. apicus

    the thing is that bordeaux wines are not very interesting; just like prada today.
    once upon a time, before lvhm entering the market, before prada seeking global domination and sponsoring boats, they were great.
    when the enlightened part of the wine-world speaks about “vins naturel”, the chinese appreciate these wines, grown with so much chemicals the soil is dead and lots of pesticides left in the expensive wine.
    it is a crazy world indeed, and who said the rich have any taste(buds)…

  2. mel

    On a recent trip to China we noticed many more retail stores selling wine particularly French wine although in Hong Kong the selection was more varied. At a dinner in Chengdu at Family Yu’s ( March 2010 ) when we asked about wine we were told that they only stocked French wine. We proceeded to their storage cooler where the Rothchild labels at 10,000 RMB were in abundance. The only reasonably priced wines we could find were an unknown bordeaux at 168 RMB and a shiraz i’ve forgotten. The wine was acceptable to the crowd but probably not the best choice for the type of food served at Family Yu. The food and service was excellent. As happened here in the states, time should bring a greater variety and more reasonably pricing to the marketplace.

  3. Mart

    Oh dear here we go again. When will people realise the whole Bordeaux thing is just a marketing ploy. I drank those expensive wines and most of it is supercharged plunk. I second Apicus on the natural wines but even there the rot is starting. Think this story just proves that it doesn’t require intelligence to make a lot of money. By the way, how do you make wine containg 40% alcohol? We call that spirits don’t we?

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