The Bordeaux wine trade is known for its being particularly staid. Not much changes from year to year- and if it does, then it happens very slowly.
The conservative Bordelaise have been shocked by the behaviour of some upstart new châteaux owners, particularly the Chinese. who care little for local traditions.
British-based Drinks Business magazine reports that 300-year-old Château Larteau recently got a name change to Château Lapin Imperial (Château Imperial Rabbit) by its Chinese owner Chi Tong.
Its symbol of a white-walled mansion has been subsequently replaced, I kid you not, by a fluffy rabbit.
Three of Tong's other Bordeaux estates all went through name changes - with history booted out the door.
Château Senilhac, once the largest wine producer in the Medoc region, had been in the Grassin family for eight decades but has now named Château Antilope Tibetaine (Château Tibetan Antelope). Château La Tour Saint-Pierre in Saint Emilion is now Château Lapin d’Or (Château Golden Rabbit), while in Pomerol Château Close Bel-Air is now Château Grande Antilope (Chateau Great Antelope).
Both rabbit and antelope carry positive connotations in Chinese culture.
Jean-Marie Garde, chairman of the Pomerol winemakers’ union, told SudOuestnewspaper that he hoped the strategy was “not going to be generalised. For our image and our notoriety, it would be bad if the names of great châteaux were transformed into rabbits and antelopes.”
We wait with bated breath to see what changes will be forthcoming from Chinese actress Zhao Wei, who has purchased Château Monlot, and billionaire Jack Ma, who now owns three vineyards in the region.Château Fauchey in Cadillac was also acquired by a Hong Kong firm.
Meanwhile, the craziness at Chateau Troplong Mondot in Saint-Emilion is all French.
The on-site restaurant here, Les Belles Perdrix, was opened in 2012 and was awarded a Michelin star last year, but new owners SCOR Group, who only took over six months ago, have announced it will close later this month and reopen in 2021 after "renovations", Wine Business reports.
Chinese interests could have built a whole new city in that time, let alone upgraded a five-year-old restaurant facility.