Louis Vuitton family launches wine for the Chinese palate

Louis Vuitton’s founding family has launched XLV, a range of wines specifically tailored to the Chinese palate.

Encompassing wines from the southern Rhône, Bordeaux and Champagne, XLV is named after fifth generation family member Xavier-Louis Vuitton, who owns a wine estate near Apt in the Vaucluse department of France.

Xavier-Louis’ son Quentin-Louis, who has taken on the role of cellar master, was at last week’s HKTDC International Wine & Spirits Fair to introduce the range. Describing wine as “a passion I inherited from my father”, he explained: “I made many trips to Asia to understand the Asian palate.”

As a result, the family has worked with business partner and vineyard manager Gael Vachet to create a range that aims to capture the fruit-driven style and softer tannins that Vuitton found appeals to Chinese consumers, who will form the primary initial target market for the XLV wines.

Tommy Wong, who is managing XLV’s distribution explained the appeal of the Vuittons’ close connection to this project. “The family is involved and that is important. In China trust is important – there are many imitations, but this brand can be trusted.”

Although the XLV team emphasised that its project has no connection with the Louis Vuitton brand, which is now owned by LVMH, the popularity of this luxury fashion house in China is likely to provide a useful connection for the Vuitton family in building a following for its wines.

As for the decision to launch the brand in Hong Kong rather than mainland China, Wong highlighted the administrative region’s role as a hub for the Asian wine trade, saying: “If you want to be in the Chinese market, the first step is to be here in Hong Kong.”

While the Ventoux wine is made from the Vuitton estate’s own grapes, the family works with growers for its other wines. These come from fellow southern Rhône appellation Châteauneuf du Pape, the Bordeaux appellations of Pomerol, Pauillac, St Estephe, Pessac and Margaux, and finally Champagne, where the brand has a Grand Cru blanc de blancs from Verzenay.

Currently sold through Hong Kong-based online retailer yeswine.com, prices range from HK$360 (£29) for the XLV Ventoux 2010 up to HK$2,450 (£199) for the XLV Pauillac 2007.

Emphasising a focus on “the most prestigious wine regions of France” Quentin-Louis hinted at future expansion plans for the brand. “People are asking for a Côte Rôtie”, he observed, but indicated that any such extension would be “two to five years” away.

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