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Auspicious character on bottle of '08 Lafite to honor the future of 'China's Bordeaux'

The lucky Chinese character for the number eight (?) emblazoned in red on every bottle of Lafite 2008 as a symbol of future China-grown premier cru wines from the winemaker's vines 800km outside of Shanghai known as China's Bordeaux.

According to wine news source Decanter.com on October 26, "The shape of the symbol seems to offer a perfect representation of the slopes of the vineyard and commemorates the launch of our Chinese wine project," said a spokeswoman for Lafite owner Domaines Barons de Rothschild.

She continued, "We wanted to remind all those who will have the pleasure of drinking these wines in a few years of this exciting undertaking."

Selecting the symbol for the eight is so lucky "in Chinese culture that huge sums of money are paid for telephone numbers made up only of the number, while the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics began precisely at eight minutes and eight seconds past 8pm, on 8 August 2008."

The world authority on wine Robert Parker noted that 2008 Lafite is "one of the most profound young wines I have ever tasted," and scored it 98-100.

And on October 28, Decanter provided an update on the situation. Since the announcement of the Lafite 2008 bearing the Chinese character the trade market has gone "bonkers" according to Simon Staples of Berry Bros and Rudd.

The bottles won't be physically available until 2011 but investors and Chinese wine lovers are buying by the caseload.

Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners explained "this is a wine that we sold at £1,950 [€2230] en primeur 18 months ago and it reached £9,000 [€10,300] recently. As a result of the announcement it has hit £10,000 [€11,434] a case and we are out of stock."

And, Browett is not alone - most merchants can't get their hands on any more of these lucky bottles.

Lafite isn't the first European brand to imprint bottles with Chinese characters.

The world's toughest water bottles made in Switzerland Sigg have a special design with Chinese characters known as the Grenadier Sigg Water Bottle ($24/€17).

According to Jing Daily, a blog devoted to China's luxury business and culture, in August limited-edition bottles of Sweden's Absolut vodka designed by Chinese pop artist Gao Yu hit shelves with a design featuring "72?" which signifies transformations and the capabilities of the sun. It is selling on eBay in Singapore for S$170/€95.

Many wine enthusiasts also expect the premier cru Mouton 2008 to reveal a label with Chinese characters by December 2010.