Legendary vineyard Domaine de Baronarques, owned by the family behind the Chateau Mouton Rothschild, expects to ship approximately 11,000 bottles, or 25% of annual production, to China, potentially pipping Australian wine makers who have been hit by import taxes.
"It is one of the chances of a lifetime for us to introduce our wines to this very demanding market, and thus we decided to convince as many distributors as possible all over China and Hong Kong, to get the widest distribution possible," managing director Augustin Deschamps told the South China Morning Post.
"We would then be more visible and better known and we hope the sales would increase," Deschamps said, adding the plans are to more than double its current quota for the market.
A free-trade agreement signed by Beijing and Canberra in 2015 lowered Chinese taxes on Australian wine, paving the way for Australia to surpass France as the largest wine exporter to China by 2019.
But amid tensions with Canberra, China recently placed import tariffs and bans on a number of Australian exports ranging from barley to wine, causing Australian wine to be withdrawn from Chinese shelves. Imports of Australian wine are subject to anti-dumping levies ranging from 116.2% to 218.4% from March 28, according to a final ruling issued by the Chinese commerce ministry.
China's growing middle class, which has developed a taste for wine in the last decade, has transformed the world's second-largest economy into the world's largest market for first growth brands.
Now, Baronarques intends to sell its signature red and white wines from France in China for 500 yuan (US$76) per bottle, or HK$400 ($51) each in Hong Kong.
According to Deschamps, the estate is working with at least 30 importers in the country. That would be competitive with New World wines, the majority of which, excluding Penfold's Grange and Napa Valley's cult wines, retail in China for three-digit figures.
Domaine de Baronarques' history dates back to the 17th century when it was owned by an abbey. After a five-year renovation, it was purchased by the Rothschild family in 1998 and started producing a new vintage in 2003.