China tariffs push US wines to breaking point, Lafite names its Shandong project, will Domaine Franco-Chinois finally release its wine, and more. If you know others who would like the newsletter, please pass it on.
Greetings from China,

Where US wine faces a 93% entrance fee, Lafite finally named its Shandong project, and Domaine Franco-Chinois looks closer to an official launch after two decades of prep.

The 15% China tariff on June 1 hiked total tariffs / taxes on US wines to 93% and doubled as a breaking point for producers and importers that had been sacrificing profit to keep price steady. For the fallout, see my Wine Searcher piece, quoting Michael Parr (Wente), Alex Chen (Alexander Wine), Tom Hinde (Yao Family Wine) and Simon Su (Dierberg).

I also posted an extended Q&A with Simon Su, who outlined the impact of each of those three tariffs, and how he deals with it for different customers—hotels / restaurants, private clients and sub-distributors. It's insightful stuff, though Su is skeptical about a deal being made and says "if they don't care, then we don't care."

Ten years after Lafite got its Shandong project started, it announced the wine will go on sale on September. I wrote this piece for Wine Searcher comparing Lafite's rolein the China market of 2009, when the project began, to now. Back then?

"China arguably reached peak Lafite a decade ago. Lafite dominated an era when officials of state-owned enterprises guzzled this label by the case, when consumers had far less wine knowledge and were far more status conscious, and when property developers, restaurants and banks leveraged the name 'La Fei' to boost their own brands. Production on the documentary Red Obsession, about China’s fascination with Bordeaux and especially Lafite, was in the queue."

And now? Check this post.for details, including the challenges of making wine in Shandong and some early reviews of the wine..

Lafite also announced the name of the winery. It's Long Dai. Yes, it sounds like Long Die, and reminded some of how products by big China producer Dynasty are sometimes called Die Nasty. Not good. But I do have a solution, one that involves The Eight Immortals and a Bruce Willis movie. See here for that.

Richard Li, a 17-year ASC Fine Wines veteran, is now president of Domaine Franco-Chinois, which began as a scientific project in 1999 before privatizing in 2010, and at Canaan, started in 2006. Both are just outside Beijing and have already received kudos for their wines. Now, will those wines finally go on sale? And, given Li's presence, will it involve ASC, which has Grace Vineyard in the portfolio? More here.

Amid the hand-wringing by some about Bordeaux's market share in China, Canon-Fronsac winery Ponty recently went rogue rouge and introduced a Clairet. And I joined a "wine and tech" event in Beijing, to promote Marselan, what some call China's grape. More here.

As usual, it takes time and money to create content. If you find this newsletter useful, please consider making a Paypal or WeChat donation -- anyone going to go first!? -- and help offset hosting, domain name and other costs

Cheers, Jim
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Note: This newsletter content is general information. I make no guarantee as to its completeness or accuracy. Use it at your own risk. In other words, I try hard to be accurate, but mistakes can happen, so reader beware. Also, I'm not a fan of spam and aim to send this newsletter only to people who signed up at Grape Wall blog or agreed by email or in person to receive it. Cheers, Jim Boyce
17 July 2019

Grape Wall covers China's wine scene. Winery visits, tastings, news, reviews, interviews .Since 2007.

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Issue 47
Australia's China success, World Marselan Day, bulk wine, fake wine

Issue 46
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 45
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 45
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 44
China's tariff on US wine, 19th-century wine dinner, ten Ningxia wineries, top summer posts
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TWE teams with baijiu giant, wacky China wine labels, Changyu-Moser XV turns five, experts split over faulty wine

Issue 42
Building a family brand in China, Grace's IPO, Rawson's Retreat advances, Simone Incontro
Issue 41
Paul Truel & World Marselan Day, Ningxia's secret weapon, Amethyard's dope wine
Issue 40
10 takes on China's wine tariff, Penfolds' dodgy competitors, state booze picks
Issue 39
Imports top local brands, Bruno Paumard's new wines, Mike Gadd on Ningxia
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South African leads 15 medalists at Ningxia Winemakers Challenge
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Ningxia vs Bordeaux
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