FA JIU LONG : Bruno Paumard

Nov 14, 2011 No Comments by

To meet Bruno Paumard is really something! When I first met him, he was wearing a large T-shirt, with the communist red star on it. I was at a tasting with Raphael Sarri, the French sommelier of 1949, Olivier Six, from EMW. Bruno Paumard sat with us. I didn’t really know who he was. But, I became very curious about him.

–          Do you know who I am? he asked in English.

–          Not exactly, I answered, still in English. (We realized quickly we were both French people speaking to each other in English. Those kinds of situation happen sometimes!) So, I said, I guess you are the partner of Raphael Sarri, of the Company Beijing Wine Store.

–          Not only!

I didn’t know I was in front of the man named “Fa Jiu Long”, The French Dragon of wines!

Let me very quickly introduce you to Bruno Paumard. He is originally from Angers in the Loire Valley in France. He first has been sommelier, and won many high distinctions. After, he decided to become a winemaker; he worked in a vineyard in Saumur. He was passionate and learned a lot. Then, something happened: he fell in love… in China. Since then, he lives in China and he is not sure he’ll ever come back to France.

What does he do in China?

He is now the wine maker of Château Hansen, an organic vineyard from Inner Mongolia, which I will talk you about in detail in another article, since there are many things to say about it. He has also built a company of import and distribution, with Raphael Sarri. The company, Beijing Wine Store (http://www.bjwinestore.cn), has a very good quality selection of different wines.  Plus, he recently wrote for the “Revue française des vins de France”, which has begun to be edited for China. He also was recently elected The Organic man in Hong kong and awarded Ambassador of Ecology in China, by the Green Chanel Central Television .He is more and more famous and was interviewed very recently by CCT 1 and 2 and others journals and magazines…

I had the chance to spend time with him. I asked him to give us his point of view about the three main ideas you are always dealing with in China, when you are interested in wines. Some of those ideas or clichés, I guess, are true, some are partly false. Let’s see what Bruno Paumard thinks…

Is it true that Chinese people only drink wine as « Ganbei ! » ?

B.P : First of all, we shouldn’t forget that the consumption of wine in China is mostly due to the « Ganbei » culture. But, some regions have different levels of consumption and different ways of consuming. I would say that for 1 Ganbei in Beijing, there are 10 Ganbei in Inner Mongolia. Beijing and Shanghai are also different. In Shanghai, the market offers two extremes: on the first hand, the 1er Grands Crus, which are extremely expensive, and on the second hand, the very low-end wines. In Beijing, the market is different. It seems that there are a lot of people who appreciate good wines and are eager to taste new wines, not only the more expensive ones. I am sure that good wine makers will have more and more success in Beijing.

Wine consumption is evolving very fast in China. According to Bruno Paumard, the phenomenon of organic wines in China is one of the signals. From his experience in Château Hansen, which produces organic wines with ecological project in the region, he says that more and more Chinese people are interested in organic wines. They want to drink a healthy wine while also behaving responsibly. Those people of course are not the majority. They are the middle business class, who work abroad, meet foreigners, and talk about wines, which helps them to be valorized in their social status.

Would you say that Chinese people don’t know anything about wine? Do you think that they buy it because it is pricey and famous?

I would say it depends on the consumer. I would define three kind of Chinese consumers:

  1. The Rich: They buy Grand Crus for two principals reason: because they want to have a fine life style, but also because they make money upon wines.
  2. The Ganbei people: They usually are rich people too, they have not a lot of interest for Culture, but they buy very famous wines. It is a way to impress their surroundings.
  3. The Middle class: They earn around 4000 to 12000 RMB each month, and they like to buy wine for gift. When they buy wine, they buy foreign wines or Great Chinese wines, the most expensive ones. In China, when you make a present, you give a gift and its price! I have a client for instance, he spends a lot of RMB on only 10 bottles each year, to give a gift. They also like to taste wines and choose middle hand wines.

Is it true that Chinese people don’t like red wines?

It is mostly the Chinese women who don’t like red wine. But, since it is said to be good for health, they do drink it, just like you drink a medicine, for some of them. Recently, a Spanish study showed that the tannins of red wine do protect from sunburn and increase skin health. This is definitely an argument to convince women to drink red wines and not other alcohols.

Chinese people are not yet very interested in white wines. Moreover, they don’t like Champagne or Sparkling wines. They have the feeling that something is wrong since there are still bubbles. They think those wines are not yet finished! They do like sweet wines, but don’t drink it a lot yet.

Thanks Bruno for your time and for having shared with us your point of view on the three main ideas which are puzzling.

We wish you successful harvest in Inner Mongolia.


News, Wine Education in China

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