Please allow me to introduce my business associate and friend, Dominic Bauquis, who will start contributing to this blog. Dominic came to China in 1994 and he “fell in love” with the country as I did 10 years earlier. He will share his thoughts, interests and experience and you will find his posts under Today’s China and Culinary Journeys & Wine Roads. I hope that you will find his first post (placed below) of interest.
RED Revolution At Gevrey …. And In China
Gevrey-Chambertin wines are among the most famous produced in Burgundy, one of the few regions in the world where the diversity of red wines is not based on growing a plethora of grape varieties, but only pinot noir (and gamay in specific areas), and where subtle differences in soils, hillside exposures and weather translate into very different wines.
In contrast to Bordeaux where international investors have established a strong presence for decades, the Burgundy region is made of relatively small estates run by winemakers whose properties are mostly passed down from generation to generation.
Foreign ownership is relatively rare but it is changing fast with Chinese buyers leading the way. Last year (2013), Louis Ng, the long-serving chief operating officer of Macau gambling tycoon’s Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings, snapped a deal for an unprecedented 8 million Euros making headlines in the region. His target was a 900-year old estate in the hand of the Masson family since the mid 19th century.
It was the first high-profile estate to be sold to a Chinese billionaire in the region, which made this deal controversial among local winemakers. Similar deals are most likely to happen again in the future keeping in mind that more than 40 wine-growing properties in Bordeaux were sold to Chinese personalities and investors over the past several years including Château du Grand Mouëys to tycoon Jin Shan Zhang and Château Monlot to Chinese film star Zhao Wei.
It must be noted that wine consumption in China is increasing considerably and has doubled twice in the last five years. Drinking (mostly red) wine is now trendy and upscale restaurants (regardless of the food they serve) now offer extensive wine lists covering old and new worlds and Chinese wines.
Indeed, domestic production has increased four times over the past 10 years and international wine groups are increasingly present in this market. Initially, joint ventures were created to start vineyards from scratch. Bordeaux’s “Taillan Group” was one of the first to start red wine production in the mid-1990s in the vicinity of the Great Wall, north of Beijing. Last year, “Moet Hennessy”, announced a plan to start producing sparkling wine on a new 60-hectare vineyard in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. They are also planning to produce red wine in Yunnan Province. Another heavyweight, “Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild”, is developing production in Shandong Province.
Changyu is the oldest and largest Chinese wine maker. It was founded in Yantai (Shandong Province) in 1892 by Zhang Bishi, a high-ranking Chinese diplomat. Today, In Yantai alone, the company has more than 5,000 hectares of vineyards spread along the city’s coastal areas, which lie on a latitude similar to that of Bordeaux’s wine-producing region.
China is now the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. The way the country will be able to produce high quality wines in the future will be a fascinating process to observe. For sure, the market has a huge potential for growth (domestic production and import). It is expected to increase by 40% within the next three to four years to reach over 400 million unit cases. It would make China the largest global wine consumer in the world!