Tag Archives: China

Château Suduiraut in China: when wine meets art

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I went to China in October  for an unusual and exceptional event.  I have had the feeling for a couple of years that the time was right for Chinese wine drinkers to discover the great wines of Sauternes. When I first started going to China at the end of the 90s, the wine market was in its infancy. I remember an early Union des Grands Crus tasting where very few people actually turned up. Fifteen years later when we put on an event of that sort in Shanghai or Beijing over one thousand knowledgeable people will be in attendance. The transformation of the scene in a relatively short space of time has been astonishing. But the primary focus has been on red wines, in particular the great Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux.

We decided therefore that it was time to launch the wine of Château Suduiraut in China, and after much reflection decided that an interesting and exciting way to do this would be to commission a work of art from a well known Chinese artist, that would be somehow inspired by Château Suduiraut and its wines and then in partnership with the artist launch both the wines of Château Suduiraut and the work of art, using art as a bridge between the two cultures of France and China.

After much research, we approached the distinguished artist Jiao Xingtao. He liked the idea and came out to Suduiraut.

Jiao Xingtao and myself at Suduiraut
Jiao Xingtao and myself at Suduiraut

He is an exceptional person, very likeable and a true free spirit and I liked him very much from the first. He enjoyed his visit to Suduiraut and a few months later came up with an outstanding piece of work inspired by Château Suduiraut and its wines.

 Jiao Xingtao with “The Golden Wine”, the sculpture he created inspired by the chateau and wines of Suduiraut
Jiao Xingtao with “The Golden Wine”, the sculpture he created inspired by the chateau and wines of Suduiraut

Inspired in turn by what he had done, we designed a special label for Château Suduiraut for its launch in China.  The label of Château Suduiraut uses the coat of arms of the Suduiraut family, which features two golden lions. Jiao had taken this and transformed the lions, modeled on the Chinese lions in the Beijing summer palace.

Close up of lions on the artwork made by Jiao Xingtao
Close up of lions on the artwork made by Jiao Xingtao

We liked this idea and used it on the Chinese label for Château Suduiraut, which is being produced as a limited edition for China in both 75 cl and Magnum format. The wine we chose for the launch was the outstanding 2009 vintage, which I consider to be one of the greatest vintages of Château Suduiraut ever, and so it seemed appropriate that it should be the wine to introduce Château Suduiraut to China.

Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition label
Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition label

Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition box
Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition box

Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition magnum
Château Suduiraut 2009 limited edition magnum

We also had the name of Château Suduiraut translated into Mandarin.

 Château Suduiraut in Mandarin
Château Suduiraut in Mandarin

When spoken in Mandarin this sounds something like Suduiraut, but more importantly means Rising Sun (the first character) Golden (the second character) Château (the third character). I like this name very much. We are particularly keen to communicate in China around the idea that Château Suduiraut is a golden wine. It is exactly its colour, and in addition Gold has strong positive resonances in China as an imperial colour. Well, we can’t just let the red wines have it all their own way.

We had two launches, in Hong Kong and Shanghai, with a huge turnout of top journalists and wine and art collectors, including the great Henry Tang who has done so much for the world of wine in Hong Kong. I was slightly apprehensive about organizing these events as it was the first time we had done something like this, but it was a great success, very enjoyable, and I look forward to working with Jiao again in the future.

Jiao Xingtao and myself during the Hong Kong launch
Jiao Xingtao and myself during the Hong Kong launch

Quinta do Noval is now in China

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I was in China earlier this month for the launch of Quinta do Noval there with our new importer Kerry Wines. This is an exciting development. Of course it is very early days, and Port consumption in China is still extremely low. But the recent history of Bordeaux’s development there shows that there is enormous potential, and our experience with other markets has often been that an initial discovery of red wine is followed by a development of interest in other great wines of the world, of which Port is incontestably one.

It was a fascinating experience to host the various tastings we organized and to receive the impressions of the people who had come to try our wines. Naturally for some the experience was extremely novel, and some of them may need a little time to understand and appreciate Port better. But a sizeable number really enjoyed the wines, and of course there are many sophisticated collectors in China who knew about Quinta do Noval already. To mark the occasion of Quinta do Noval’s launch into this exciting market, we opened a few rare bottles of Vintage Nacional. It was highly enjoyable to share these great wines with wine drinkers for whom in some cases the experience was entirely new, and with others who had already come across Quinta do Noval elsewhere in the world.

A glass of chilled Noval Black to start things off – Photo Credit: James Jiang
A glass of chilled Noval Black to start things off – Photo Credit: James Jiang

Shanghai – Transmitting the message - Photo Credit:  James Jiang
Shanghai – Transmitting the message - Photo Credit: James Jiang
Shanghai – The Tasting- Photo Credit: James Jiang
Shanghai – The Tasting- Photo Credit: James Jiang
The moment recorded - Photo Credit: James Jiang
The moment recorded - Photo Credit: James Jiang
With Kerry Wines CEO Simon Wang (Right) and Brand Manager Crystal Edgar (Left) - Photo Credit: James Jiang
With Kerry Wines CEO Simon Wang (Right) and Brand Manager Crystal Edgar (Left) - Photo Credit: James Jiang
Beijing – Still Preaching
Beijing – Still Preaching
Beijing - The Tasting
Beijing - The Tasting
Great Wine – A universal language
Great Wine – A universal language

China tour. A glass of Château Pichon-Longueville on the Great Wall

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I am in China at the moment, both for the launch of our new distribution agreement with Cofco, and also accompanying Ch’ng Poh Tiong on the annual three city tour of China he organises each year, 128 years of Bordeaux. We had an unusually formal signing agreement with Cofco, who are taking on exclusive distribution of Les Tourelles de Longueville, Castelnau de Suduiraut and the wines of Mas Belles Eaux. Here we are at the signing ceremony in Beijing.

Signature of a new distribution agreement with Cofco

I have been coming to China for some time now, first visit having been in 1995. The transformation has been astounding, large parts of the cities literally unrecognisable after only a few years. From the wine point of view there have also been huge changes, with sophisticated wine shops and bars appearing on the scene, and wonderful restaurants, both Chinese and all varieties of international with remarkably extensive wine lists. A lot has happened in a very short time, but I am sure that in ten years time we will look back to today as having just been the beginning.

A year ago we recruited Stephanie Lim, a great wine professional, as our full time representative here, an indication of our belief in the future here. We had some time free on Saturday and so decided to take a bottle of Pichon to the great wall to drink to the future in Asia. We chose a very steep part of the wall to climb, so found ourselves alone at the top, having to take a picture of ourselves, so here is first a picture of me with a glass of Pichon on the Great Wall.

Christian Seely with a glass of Pichon on the Great Wall

And here is a picture of Stephanie, naturally more in harmony with her surroundings, and much easier on the eye.

Stéphanie Lim with a glass of Pichon on the Great Wall