“Our story as winemakers began 150 years ago at Château Lafite in France. Ten years ago, we decided to start the same story in China.”

Saskia de Rothschild

History

After 10 years of learning to care the Qiu Shan terroir, DBR (Lafite) revealed the first vintage of its Chinese Grand Cru.

“Our family have been winemakers at Lafite for 150 years so it is in our culture to be patient and take our time to make sure we release a wine we are proud of.” said Saskia de Rothschild, Chairwoman, who has just succeeded her father, Baron Eric de Rothschild, at the head of the family’s wine estates. “This vintage of Long Dai is the first chapter of a very long story as winemakers in China”.

The choice for the name Long Dai came from the family’s wish to find an identity that could show how this wine is the perfect balance between nature, and the care of men and women who have helped it reveal its best potential. It was also important to find a name that showed tribute to Shandong’s exceptional local history. Inspired by the Taishan sacred mountain in Shandong, Long Dai represents an idealized mountain that rose through the power of nature and was then carefully chiseled by human hands. Our choice of name describes what we do as winemakers: try to perfect the raw materials provided by nature.

The wine estate developed by the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) can now count on 25 hectares of vines in full production (among 30 planted). “One thing we now know is the more the vines have aged, the better the wines we have produced, so we are excited to keep learning from this terroir over the years to come” explains Olivier Trégoat, Director of DBR (Lafite) international estates. “This first vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marselan and Cabernet Franc, picked from a selection of the 360 terraces that are planted in the granite soils that we found at the foothills of the Qiu Shan Valley.”

Benefitting from Shandong’s beautiful late-season, the conditions are optimal for the development of grapes, allowing them to reach their full maturity. Harvesting is done by hand in successive pickings. Drawing from a blend of terroirs, Long Dai is a reflection of the distinct qualities of each of these terraces, giving the wine its unique complexity. The wine is then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, produced by the Tonnelerie des Domaines, near Château Lafite.

“Long Dai will be distributed in the Chinese market exclusively by Pernod Ricard China, with whom DBR (Lafite) has reached a long-term partnership. The product will be available to purchase starting 19th September 2019” said Jean-Guillaume Prats, CEO of DBR (Lafite) “However, customers will have to wait a bit longer – until the end of November – to receive their precious bottles as the wine will have to rest once in the bottle a little longer to be perfectly ready… The distribution on the export markets will be addressed at a later stage in early 2020.”

Jean-Etienne Gourgues, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard China said, “We are glad to take this opportunity to broaden our partnership with DBR (Lafite). As the exclusive distributor of Long Dai in China, we are honored to be associated with a new chapter of winemaking in China. This not only demonstrates our commitment to the Chinese market and consumers, but also our dedication to enriching the high-end and fine wines portfolio in line with our strategic vision for the wine category.”

The estate will be opening to visits via appointment at the end of 2019 .

Vineyard and Terroir

Domaine de Long Dai is nestled at the heart of the Qiu Shan Valley in the Shandong Province in the North eastern part of China. The climate here is hot-tempered by the influence of the Yellow Sea located a mere 20km away. The region is highly dependent on agriculture which, combined with the granitic soil, make it a place of interest to grow vines. The winters are cold, but not as cold as other Chinese wine regions and do not require the vines to be covered. The vineyard has been set up in collaboration with the local farmers of the nearby village of Mulangou. Their contribution has been precious to complete the knowhow of the DBR teams. Ten of them have joined the team on a permanent basis and, when required, they seek seasonal help amongst the other villagers.

The 30 hectares of vineyards are spread across 360 terraces as per the traditional agricultural methods in the region. This has enabled the preservation of the landscape and the soil structure, but also requires extra manual work and the use of adapted machinery.

When the land was purchased in 2009 everything had to be set up from scratch. The technical team started by exploring the soil, over 400 soil pits were dug to identify the best locations to plant vines. At Long Dai we practice a viticulture of great precision. Disbudding and green harvesting naturally reduce yields and allow the grapes to reach their phenolic maturation.

The winter here is dry and cold but not as cold as in other regions. Earthing up the lower part of the stems is generally sufficient to protect the vines from the frost.

The summer is warm with a short rainy season during July-August, which is followed by two months of dry weather during the critical time of the ripening period. Due to the ripening variations induced by the terracing systems, each terrace is harvested in several passes to ensure all the grapes are at their optimal level of ripeness.

Amongst the main grape varieties that were planted are Cabernet Sauvignon: the signature varietal of Lafite, Syrah which is perfectly adapted to hard granitic soils, and Marselan, to bring spicy notes and colour.

The property is managed by General Manager Charles Treutenaere since April 2018 with the assistance of Juliette Couderc – Technical Manager-  Zhang Peng, Vineyard Manager and Liang Chen, Cellar Master. Olivier Trégoat, Technical Director of DBR (Lafite) estates outside Bordeaux, provides technical supervision.

Winemaking

Traditional Bordeaux method

The team has chosen small temperature controlled stainless-steel tanks, ranging from 15 to 90hL, which is perfect to ferment the small lots separately. The grapes are harvested by hand in small crates. The grapes are picked and brought immediately to the winery. When arriving at the winery, the grapes are destemmed and placed on a sorting table where the berries are sorted individually. Thereafter, they are crushed and placed into the tanks for alcoholic fermentation.

The wine is made according to the traditional Bordeaux method. Fermentation is started immediately, with a gentle pump over to ensure a gentle extraction of the tannins. Total maceration time last between 18 and 21 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wines are blended prior to ageing. Most of the barrels are made by the Tonnellerie des Domaines in Pauillac.

The wine is bottled at the estate.