By Jim Boyce
A thirty-minute chat over coffee and bagels turned into a seven-hour three-bottle-of-wine interview with wine maker Nicolas Billot-Grima in Beijing last night. Billot-Grima started in the China wine industry more than 25 years ago — not a misprint: twenty-five — by working at Huadong winery in Shandong under the late Michael Parry and Gabriel Tam. His career has since taken him around the world and also around China. He has worked everywhere from Loulan in the northwest region of Xinjiang to Yunnan Hong in the southern province of Yunnan and headed the Sino-French Demonstration Vineyard just outside of Beijing in Hebei.
More on this soon. For now, a quick post about a remark by Billot-Grima last night: “I’m making a comeback“. He says he will return to the wine scene in Beijing via a new project within city limits, one of several on which he says he is consulting in China. A few details:
- The vineyard is seven hectares.
- The vines are three years old and grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
- There is also a small amount of Marsellan, a grape that showed very well at the Sino-French project.
- The winery will be tied to tourism.
Will the operation produce wine this year? Possibly. The investor — Billot-Grima says he has known him for more than a decade — is still waiting for final approval for building the facilities. Fingers crossed, he will have wine this fall. And hopefully I will have more details soon. I realize the details are a bit sparse but this is nothing three more bottles and seven more hours cannot fix.