Lafite-Rothschild owner produces first ‘experimental’ wine in China


Chateau Lafite-Rothschild owner, Domaines Barons de Rothschild, has described its first Chinese vintage as ‘experimental’ and believes it is likely to take at least another three harvests to perfect a wine that it could sell on the domestic market.

Image: Olivier Richaud © Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (DBR) produced its first Chinese wine in the 2013 harvest, from seven hectares of vines planted in 2011, and consisting of four hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.7ha of Syrah and 1.3ha of Marselan.

The group has continued to plant vines at its Chinese vineyard in Penglai, Shandong Province, and is aiming to have a 25ha vineyard by 2016. It began its vineyard project in 2008, in partnership with Chinese state-owned group CITIC, and spent two years researching the terroir before deciding to place the vineyard on south/south-east facing hills in the Mulangou area in Penglai.

‘Of all the regions explored the Shandong peninsula showed the best potential for the production of a great wine, both for its climate and its geology,’ said Olivier Richaud, technical manager of the DBR-CITIC wine estate, who joined the project in April 2013 to succeed Gérard Colin.

Richaud told that the complete vineyard will be mostly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, along with some Merlot, Petit Verdot and Marselan.

He said that the group’s first commercial wines for the Mainland China market could come from the 2016 vintage, but the project is still in its early stages.

Of the 2013 wines, he said, ‘Considering that local conditions are completely different from what the group has experienced in other regions, and that very little external information was available on the real and practical challenges viticulture has to face in this particular region, 2013 was an experimental vintage.

‘All information gathered during vinification and maceration shall be very profitable for the following years.’

DBR and CITIC are also currently building facilities at their estate, including a 5,600 m2 cellar, an equipment storeroom and a residence.

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