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Longing for Long Dai

Longing for Long Dai
Oct 4, 2019 (WiC 469)

Chateau Lafite has long been one of the most faked wines in China. The Bordeaux first growth was never happy about this dubious honour, but its response has been nothing if not plucky. Not content with letting the counterfeiters mislead consumers by substituting other grapes for its own, the French house has decided to bottle its own wine at a vineyard in Shandong province’s Penglai Valley. At the end of September the fruits of that investment went on sale as it released its 2017 vintage.

Lafite’s owner Domaines Baron de Rothschild has invested heavily in its Chinese vineyard. Lafite flew 250,000 vine stocks over from France, The Economist reports, to plant at the 30-hectare site. Wine critic James Suckling has described it as “the best winery in China” and rated its product – branded Domaine de Long Dai – “outstanding”. The price is hefty too: the 2017 was priced at Rmb2,388 ($334) a bottle.

According to The Drinks Business, only 2,500 cases have been produced of the inaugural vintage, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marselan and Cabernet Franc. However, for those who have purchased the wine – pretty much all of which has been distributed in China – there will still be a few weeks’ wait before it can be uncorked at a banquet.

Jean-Guillaum Prats, the executive running Lafite’s China operation, told The Drinks Business that customers will have to wait “until the end of November to receive their precious bottles as the wine will have to rest in the bottle a little longer to be perfectly ready”.

Mysteries of the deep

Mysteries of the deep
Sep 27, 2019 (WiC 468)

The first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster might have come as early as the year 565. The legendary Scottish beast is said to have emerged from the deep and eaten somebody, before being ordered back below the water line by Saint Colomba.

But the first glimpse of Nessie’s Yangtze River sibling was a lot more recent – just last week, in fact. Video footage of a mysterious creature was posted to Pear Video – a platform backed by Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital – and soon went viral, sparking a host of theories about what the newly named ‘Three Gorges Monster’ really was.

Netizens speculated it could be a giant sturgeon that had ballooned in size because of a polluted diet. A professor from Huazhong Agricultural University postulated it was more likely to be a water snake, while other scientists seemed to think it could be a giant eel.

An image then published by ThePaper.cn showed the object in question, washed up on some rocks. And rather disappointingly, the new consensus determined that it was a large piece of black cloth that most likely fell off a ship. That meant that unlike her Scottish equivalent, the lifespan of China’s Nessie was measured in days rather than centuries.

Bring your own lunch to the Magic Kingdom

Bring your own lunch to the Magic Kingdom
Sep 20, 2019 (WiC 467)

The Chinese are increasingly protective of their consumer rights. Just ask Disney, which recently reversed a policy preventing visitors from bringing their own food into its theme park in Shanghai.

The controversy started after a law school student surnamed Wang and her friends were stopped from entering Shanghai Disneyland because they were carrying snacks in their bags. Their request for a ticket refund was rejected and they ended up dumping the food before going into the park (the incident happened in January).

The irate Wang then launched a lawsuit against Disney last month saying it was applying a different standard to visitors in Shanghai to the one that it employed at its parks in the US (where food purchased outside can be brought in).

With the Sino-US trade war still raging, it wasn’t the best time for the US multinational to be riling its Chinese customer base. Sure enough, calls were soon growing on social media for a boycott of the Shanghai park. And with poor publicity in the local newspapers too, Disney soon decided that it was better to relent on the rules than insist they were respected.

According to the People’s Daily new regulations came into effect last Thursday which allow visitors to bring their own food and beverages into the Magic Kingdom. However, there were still a few provisos, including a continued ban on food that needs to be heated (like instant noodles). Likewise Disney specified that watermelons were still on the forbidden list (because they need to be cut with a knife). So too were smelly foods such as durians and stinky tofu.