Monday, March 7, 2011

Chinese buy Bordeaux wineries and set them straight

This flag stands for wrongful repression ... and good wine
In a new twist in China's love affair with Bordeaux, Chinese companies have begun buying Bordeaux wineries so that they can export their entire production to the Middle Kingdom.

Agence-France Presse last week published an interview with Tesiro CEO Richard Shen Dongjun, whose company recently bought a 54-acre estate in the Médoc region (but not one of the sexier subappellations).

The estate, Chateau Laulan Ducos,  is more than 500 years old, and makes a little over 12,000 cases per year, all of which will now go directly to China. This is just the latest of five such Chinese chateau purchases in Bordeaux, including one by a Chinese state-owned firm.

What I found most remarkable was this quote by Stephane Toutoundji, who consults for two of the Chinese-owned chateaux.

"(Chinese consumers) prefer smooth wines without too much tannin and not too much oak, and they hate bitterness,"* Toutoundji said. "They want charm, elegance and balance."

* One of Mao's favorite sayings was that his people should "eat bitterness." Obviously they've moved on.

Man, I love those Chinese consumers! That said, nobody is claiming the Chinese population is particularly wine-savvy yet -- they just know what they like, and they like Bordeaux, which is itself a brand name in China.

Tesiro, which bought Laulan Ducos, is a jewelry company; apparently its plan is to package wine with its jewelry for weddings. And why not? 

But I love those production plans: elegance and balance; not too much tannin or oak. I wonder if we can get some Chinese companies to buy a few American wineries and set them straight.


Jon Bjork said...

Sounds like the Chinese would like Lodi wines with Bordeaux labels. From your more recent blog, it sounds like the wine industry is building incredibly rapidly in China. Thanks for digesting all those numbers for us, Blake!

W. Blake Gray said...

Jon, you need to get a bunch of quality Lodi reds over there with a name like La Feet de Lodi ... hey, can I patent that?

Mike said...

Could this have been set in motion/accelerated by the record breaking purchases of first growth bottles a few months ago?