Use Lafite to Pedal
Last weekend brought yet more news about China’s fixation with Château Lafite: a major scandal has erupted amid revelations that the Guangdong branch of Sinopec, China’s state-run petroleum giant, used company funds to purchase hundreds of bottles of Lafite, as well as some pricey Chinese liquor. In all, the spending spree cost Sinopec $245,000. China’s Lafite fetish, which has caused the price of this First Growth to skyrocket, is one of the defining wine stories of the early 21st century. It is a source of curiosity for many oenophiles, frustration and resentment for others. Then there are those for whom it spells opportunity. My brother, who is a lawyer, wine enthusiast, and cycling fanatic, sent me this picture the other day:
That’s the fancy new bike David just purchased with proceeds from the sale of one bottle of 1998 Lafite, one bottle of 1998 Carruades de Lafite, the château’s second wine, and two bottles of 2000 Carruades. He bought the 98 Lafite on release for $125, and paid $300 in total for the four bottles. He sold all four last month for $2000. Xie xie, Zhongguo! David told me that while he is a little sorry that he won’t get to taste the wines, he figured he would get a lot more mileage, literally and figuratively, out of the Cervélo. It’s hard to argue with that. I suggested that he christen the bike The China Clipper or The Shanghai Express.
With the exception of several birth-year wines that I put away for my children, there isn’t a bottle in my cellar that I wouldn’t unload for the right price (and the only reason my kids have fancy Bordeaux awaiting them is that they both had the good sense to be born in off-vintages). How about you? If the price of the most cherished wine in your collection suddenly exploded, would you sell or hold?