China breaks into traditional French wine circles

Updated 2017-06-20 10:07:50 China Daily
China team at the wine appreciation contest in Chateau Laftie-Rothschild in Bordeaux on 16 June.

China team at the wine appreciation contest in Chateau Laftie-Rothschild in Bordeaux on 16 June.

China is making a further step in boosting its wine culture as a team of three young Chinese students competed against global rivals in a wine tasting competition at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in Bordeaux.

The competition, which is called the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, is one of the most prestigious wine contests for college students. First introduced in 2002 by the Commanderie du Bontemps de Medoc, one of the oldest and biggest French wine appreciation guilds, the contest was a national event for wine societies in France before it was opened up to the world in 2011.

This year, eight teams took part in the grand finale, which comprised a multiple-choice test on Bordeaux's history and trivia, followed by a blind tasting in which participants are asked to determine the grape varieties, vintage and origins of selected wines.

Two Chinese teams, Hong Kong Science and Technology University and Zhejiang Gongshang University ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the final.

The trophy was awarded to EM Lyon from France, HEC Lausanne came second and Sciences Po Bordeaux was placed third. Three other participating teams were Bocconi University from Italy, Columbia Business School and Tuck School of Business from the USA.

Fan Lina, who is a senior chateau M&A advisor and the only Chinese judge on the panel, said: "the performance from the Chinese team was commendable, given the difficulty of the questions, which are impossible to find in the textbooks. Some of the questions I don't even believe all the judges are able to give the right answers."

Despite the fourth place, Fan said, the Chinese team were doing extremely well in the first half of the competition in which they held a distinct lead. She believes the Chinese students' lack of experience in fine wines led to their falling behind in the blind tasting.

But she is confident that with a growing wine interest in China, it will become easier for Chinese to access high quality wines, adding "very soon we will see China become a wine master nation."

Whilst explaining the reason for promoting such a competition amongst university students, Emmanuel Cruse, the world grand master of the Commanderie Bontemps who led the judging team of 18 for the final, said the aim of this contest is to enable the world's future elites to come into closer contact with the great growth wines of Bordeaux's left bank.

"There is no other better way to promote Bordeaux wines in such a sustainable manner," Cruse added.

Christophe Salin, CEO of the Domain Baron de Rothschild, who was also on the judges' panel, said young people in China are catching up rapidly with their global peers in terms of wine knowledge, but to develop an in-depth wine culture requires patience, as it has taken several generations for Bordeaux to have such a prestige in the wine industry.

Wang Zhengqing, 19, the team captain of the Zhejiang team said: "it is frustrating that we didn't get to the top three," as he believes the whole team has the capability to do so.

Wang added:"the experience of attending such high-level wine competition is priceless."

The latest figures from Vinexpo predict that wine sales in China will grow by 39.8 percent in the next three years, leading the country to become the world's second largest wine market after the U.S.

Fan Lina (center) and judges meet Chinese teams at a wine-tasting in Bordeux, France.

Fan Lina (center) and judges meet Chinese teams at a wine-tasting in Bordeux, France.

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