Will China Find Another Lafite?

It’s been reported that the Chinese love affair with top flight Bordeaux is starting to lose it’s appeal as lots go unsold at auctions. Reasons given are the disenchantment with inflated prices and a growing appreciation of other wines. Burgundy is being mooted as the next big thing.

Of course the Chinese will start to look for other wines, learn more about the different drinks on offer and experiment with alternatives. It’s a natural process.

However a press release about a small production cult wine from New Zealand caught my attention recently: “Destiny Bay Wine Ranked with the Finest French Bordeaux by Chinese Collectors and Enthusiasts”:

Destiny Bay Vineyards reported today that Chinese wine distributors, buoyed by praise comparing Magna Praemia to first growth French Bordeaux wines, have purchased all of the remaining 2004 vintage Magna Praemia Cabernet blend and have begun negotiations for the remaining 2005 vintage.

Chinese wine critic, Frank Li, in a front page article for the Oriental Weekly, a Chinese language newspaper in Auckland, confirmed reports that Bordeaux collectors in China were referring to Magna Praemia as the “Lafite of New Zealand.”

Whether it’s “the Lafite of New Zealand” or not Magna Praemia (Latin for “Great Rewards”) is an exceptional wine and has justifiably been receiving international acclaim:

This is not the first time our Magna Praemia blend has been favourably ranked with First Growth Bordeaux wines,” said Mike Spratt, co-founder of Destiny Bay Vineyards.

“Several months ago Gerard Basset, an internationally recognized Master of Wine and holder of four U.K. and European Best Sommelier titles, including World’s Best Sommelier, visited the vineyard and methodically tasted Destiny Bay’s 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages.

Praising Magna Praemia, Mr. Basset said that in a blind tasting he would have identified the 2006 as an elegant Left Bank Bordeaux, the 2007 as a fine First Growth Bordeaux and the 2008 as a top Super Tuscan.”

According to Brett Taylor, Destiny Bay’s Director of Global Distribution, Chinese collectors were visiting and quietly acquiring Magna Praemia throughout 2011:

Shortly after the Oriental Weekly article appeared, Chinese distributors began scheduling visits to the vineyard. All of the remaining 2004 vintage of both Magna Praemia and Mystae were quickly sold to China from both our New Zealand and the United States warehouses. This was followed by non-exclusive distribution partnerships in Shanghai with Shanghai HOCRES LTD and in Guangzhou with Kiwi Wines.”

Should Bordeaux be worried?

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