Grand Crunnan: Moet Hennessy, VATS to jointly make wine in southern China

By Jim Boyce

Terril Yue Jones of Reuters is reporting from the Yunnan-Tibet border where a signing ceremony has been held for a joint venture winery by Moet Hennessy and Chinese spirit producer VATS Group. A few key points from Jones’ article followed by a few notes of my own (see the full story here):

  • The JV, “at the foot of the Himalayan mountains in southern China”, will be called Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery.
  • Key grapes planted will be Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Moet Hennessy Chief Executive Christophe Navarre is quoted as saying. The average elevation is ~2400 meters. The JV will also use grapes from existing vines in Deqin County.
  • “The growing period is long, which allows slow maturation of fruit,” Beijing University of Agriculture professor Duan Changqing is quoted as saying.
  • Moet Hennessy’s also bought baijiu brand Wenjun in 2007 and last year agreed on a project to make sparkling wine in the Ningxia region.

And a few notes:

  • Professor Li Demei, also of Beijing University of Agriculture, has told me on many occasions that he considers Yunnan to have the best conditions in China for making fine wine. In terms of producing mass quantities of wine, the vast tracts in regions such as Xinjiang in northwest China are more attractive.
  • Unlike in many of China’s northern wine-producing regions, here is no need for the labor-intensive practice of burying wines each year to protect them from the winter cold.
  • I’ve tried decent wines from Yunnan, namely, the Tibetan Dry brand from Shangri-La Winery (previously Shangeli La). Those from Yunnan Hong aren’t quite at that quality level, though this project remains a very interesting one.
  • There has been a lot of talk about Cheval Blanc — in which Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy has a major stake — seeking a vineyard location in Yunnan (see here and here). Not sure if these are referring to the same project or not.

Off to a meeting but more on this topic to come…

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