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Published:  23 July, 2008

Casa Lapostolle, the winery jointly owned by the Marnier Lapostolle family in France and the Rabat family in Chile, is looking to buy land and develop vineyards in California. The company also wants to acquire more sites in the Chilean sub-region of Apalta. Managing director, Cyril de Bournet, speaking to Harpers last week, said that Chile was finding it hard to crack the US market, and that it needed to increase its quality image in the UK, hence the acquisition plans. California dominates the US market [70% by volume, according to the Wine Institute of California, 2001], so by planting there we will increase our market. It is difficult for Chile to break into the market in the US, but we have a slight advantage in that we are a partly French company. This helps quality perceptions.' According to de Bournet, New York and the East Coast were heavily skewed in favour of French wines. De Bournet admitted frustration at the UK market's emphasis on the 20-30 range in restaurants: Chile is about more than 3.99 retail. But we have to persuade Chile, too, of the need for increased quality. This is going to take time.' Lapostolle is setting up a Primera Orden' with Mouton-Rothschild - the Chilean equivalent of a Bordeaux First Growth classification. Lapostolle has denied accusations that all its best fruit was reserved solely for the Apalta wines. The company will bring out a Syrah in the next vintage and is looking to develop Pinot Noir. At the London International Wine & Spirits Fair it is launching two blends, both called Tanao', aimed at the UK restaurant market: a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, from Las Kuras vineyards in Requinoa, and a 2001 Chardonnay- Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon.