A new love affair... Lafite is 'The' fine wine for Asia's nouveau rich buyers

Chinese millionaires are becoming especially attached to the Lafite, according to new buzz among fine wine collectors and experts.

The Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2008 recorded an overnight 20% price jump in Asia's markets, last week.

According to reports, a case of the 2008 is now worth £10,160 ($16,000) while a new Chinese symbol, the number eight, is being etched into Lafite bottles.

Success was also enjoyed at Sotheby's, last Friday (October 29), when three bottles of the Lafite 1869 sold for more than $232,000 each (HK$1.815m).

Market analysts say that Asia's nouveau rich are among the buyers, whose fortunes have been made in real estate and mining.

In the worlds of the Indian Wine Academy, these buyers are hardly wine experts but find that the Lafite "adds another dimension to Luis Vuitton, luxury yachts and Lamborghinis."

And, while the Lafite is dominates the hearts and wallets of buyers in Asia, other vintages like the Latour and Margaux are lagging behind.

Elsewhere another bottle, the Chateau Haut Brion, is at a disadvantage because most Chinese collectors cannot pronounce the name correctly.

Right place, right time

So popular is the Lafite that Asia's collectors even refer to the Chateau Duhart Milon - owned by Rothschild family member Baron Eric de Rothschild - as "little Lafite".

But what is the secret behind the Lafite's popularity? Some attribute it to Lafite being in the right place at the right time - the 'right time' referring to when Lafite chose to invest in Asia's burgeoning markets.

Lafite is also the only Bordeaux company to have translated its entire website into Chinese. And the mysterious 'eight symbol' that's being carved into its bottles? It means 'prosper' in Chinese.

As well as being considered very lucky, the 'eight' symbol is also the latest step in Lafite's very clever strategy to win over Asia's markets.

Other experts, among them Serena Sutcliffe, Sotheby's international head of fine wine, reportedly speculate that the ease of pronouncing 'Lafite' in Mandarin is another factor.

Naturally, the wine's taste also plays a part. Although wine journalists in China argue that Lafite's new nouveau rich fan base knows nothing about wine, Lafite apparently now represents their ideal of how the world's finest fine wines should taste.

For now, Lafite's continuing growth and dominance in Asia is only good news both for wine collectors and investors and for the markets as a whole.


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