The DecanterChina interview: Pudao Wines


Eighteen months after being purchased by Australia’s Woolworths, Pudao Wines spoke exclusively to about its next steps forward.

Image: Marcus Ford at Decanter Asia Wine Awards judging week
Image: Marcus Ford at Decanter Asia Wine Awards judging week

The new investor

More than a year and half ago, the news broke that Pudao Wines, together with its sister firm Summergate, was purchased by Woolworths, one of Australia’s largest wine retailers.

Marcus Ford, general manager of Pudao, said the business ‘has benefitted greatly over the course of the past 18 months in establishing more sophisticated systems and processes.’

‘When Woolworth’s acquired Dan Murphy’s in Australia it too was a small retailer with a very few shops, [and] now it is the dominant wine retailer in the Australian market,’ said Ford, hinting at the retailer’s potential in Greater China.

The post-austerity period

As a fine wine retailer that initially put great emphasis on the corporate gifting sector, Pudao has had to adapt to a new reality.

‘Very few companies now use wine as a gift and those that do are more focused on value offerings than the super premiums of years gone by,’ said Ford.

Currently, most of Pudao’s consumers are buying wines at between 100 to 500RMB (£10-£50) per bottle. ‘Our customers are very open-minded about region and style.’

Amid general changes in the market, ‘we have continued to grow at a healthy and sustainable rate’, said Ford.

Try before you buy

For Pudao Wines, which owns an online store and two offline shops, ‘try before you buy’ is the key in promoting wines to Chinese consumers, said Ford.

The retailer therefore actively invites customers to try wines in their flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing, and organises hundreds of tasting events, he said.

Offering a specialised service is also important, said Ford. ‘The majority of our staff came from a service background.’

Fake wine: ‘Not just a China problem’

Another concern that’s stopping Chinese consumers from buying wines is the risk of getting fake wines.

‘I would point out though that the fine wine market has problems globally and consumers need to be aware that this is not just a “China problem”,’ said Ford.

‘We work with established importers and have great relationships with many, we are 100% focused on sourcing from the best.’

China in the next 5 to 10 years

‘I think over the past 10 to 15 years the wine market in China has been through some very exciting and sometimes over-heated times,’ said Ford.

The next 5 to 10 years will see a ‘more stable market’ develop as consumers grow in confidence. A key element will be how domestic wines perform, and whether they can compete on quality and value against imported wines, said Ford.

He added that Pudao Wines ‘aims to open more stores over the coming years’, but won’t be rushed.

‘Imported wine is really only a decade old in the China market so whilst we are ambitious we are also in no hurry to open a huge network of stores.

‘In Hong Kong we have re-branded our business under the Langton’s banner (part of the Group) and we are very excited about our fine wine brokerage service that is now up and running there.’

Word of advice for people new to the wine business

‘Wine is a complex business with many layers- some wines are commodities, some are like fast moving consumer goods, some are boutique productions and some are like luxuries and collectibles.

‘You need to be very precise about understanding your customers, what they are looking for and how as a retailer you can add value to their experience.’

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

Interview on Winemaker of Aoyun, the most expensive Chinese Wine

Jiang LU (Maxime LU)


Speaking of the most expensive and most international wine now made in China, the first on the list should be Aoyun wine (AOYUN) produced in Yunnan Shangri-La by the world’s top luxury group LVMH. Many other domestic wines claimed to be the same,but we know they are just good at amusing themselves and access to only some special channels, even much more expensive than AOYUN.  While AOYUN is different,it has been tested by the consumers from London to New York fine wine market,approved by many international wine experts and specialists,accepted by the strongest wine merchants including BBR and Live-ex,and finally entered into Chinese market. Nonetheless,we have to admit its price is high(more than 2000RMB,300 euros around),that’s why it arouse so much controversy in domestic and international wine market.`



I have been following LVMH Aoyun winery since 2014. LVMH Group has always been a fine wine industry giant, owning such as Chateau Cheval Blanc、Chateau d’Yquem 、Domaine des Lambrays、Krug and many other super top wine brands. This time LVMH also plans to create a luxury boutique wine,which actually could benifit all Chinese wines by enhancing their international reputations。



Simple background information about Aoyun
It took LVMH four years to find a perfect vineyard. Finally they chose the site in Shangri-La, near Meili Snow Mountain (6800 meters above sea level), and beside the Mekong River.
The daylight hours in the mountains is only 8-9,less than that is in Bordeaux。It results in a long growing season, giving enough time for phenols,acids and sugars to ripe. The flowering period in Bordeaux is generally 100-120 days, while in Aoyun vineyard it could be up to 140-160 days.

The pruning and managing work is all done by hand。Traffic is a disaster。The vineyard,with a total area of around 28 hectares,2200-2600m above sea levels,is distributed in four villages and divided into 320 little plots(one plot covers an area of 1.3 acres on average)。Every hector requires about 3500 hours of manpower to manage。People who work in the field are mainly local Tibetans who have their own cultures and habits。It’s very difficult to communicate with them。



As mentioned earlier, at present the way Aoyun priced its products remains controversial. I wouldn’t judge it, but leave it to the consumers. What I will do is to share with you my experience of a serious Aoyun tasting. Besides, it’s so lucky for me to get a chance to interview Maxence Dulou, the chief winemaker of the winery.

Chief winemaker Maxence Dulou,live in Yunnan and work with the team since 2012,now is in charge of all the viticultural and winemaking work.



What do you think of other wine regions in China?

I’ve been to Shandong, and Ningxia twice in the past two years, where I had many quality red wines and do feel its big improvement. Nonetheless each of them has their own problems. In Shandong, there is too much rain, the weather is so wet that the grapes cannot achieve desired maturity, but with some green flavor. It would be difficult to develop organic there. While Ningxia is always sunny, the grapes are able to accumulate enough sugar in the harvest season,but lack acidity,and their tannins cannot ripe enough. It is very cold in the winter, so grapes need to be buried to keep warm. But overall it seems fairly comforting.


In your opinion,what technologies can be used to make up for the inadequacy caused by the weather?

It is the same to all the regions that if there is a real dizaster, the winemaker could do nothing but learn to be strong. The weather varies considerably from June to August in Yunnan。But when it comes to the harvest season, generally from mid-September to the end of October, everyday is sunny and dry, and the grapes can achieve satisfying maturity.

This kind of cliamte is suitable for the implementation of organic management, so that’s what we do there: use Bordeaux mixture and yak manure only in the vineyard; try to minimize human intervention as possible as we can so that the grapes can gradually adapt themselves to the environment and be able to cope up with all the harsh weathers.

Currently we have only three years cultivation experience and four years operation experience there. We need much more time to master all the micro-climate changes discipline in the production area.


Your vineyard is 2000m high above sea level, thus sunlight would be very strong in the summer. Do you have any special vineyard management techniques (framing, pruning, etc.)?

We use VSP model, which keeps the leaves all through the growing season and cuts some in the veraison period. The leaves facing southwest will always be kept to protect grapes from strong sunlight. The climate varies every year, so pruning work must be done depending on conditions. For example, this June is cloudy, which means we don’t need to cut too much. Unlike France, thick clouds will weaken the sunlight but will not block it,nor have any impact on the growth of the grapes. It is because we are in such a high altitude. The clouds are sometimes only 100 meters above our heads(and sometimes even below us). Sunlight can always find a way to penetrate the clouds into the vineyard to ripen the grapes.


What are the plans for the future development of the winery?
We’ll make new technical attempts such as cultivate more grape varieties, improve the pruning and grass planting work, use Chinese pottery in the fermentation and so on.


It is said the Chinese pottery you just mentioned have been used in making 2013 vintage of Aoyun Wine. Does it work well?

We had 40 days maceration(including fermentation), and then moved into second fermentation ( malo-lactic fermentation). 40% new french oak is used at this stage. The rest used old barrels as we normally do. But it is impossible for us to bring in barrels from France due to the inconvenient transportation. Nor could we purchase any old ones from nearby production areas, as different yeast may carry bad bacteria and cause contamination. Thus we chose to use a nuetral container, which could not add any floavor to the wine but will not add any bad effect either. The pottery was by far a satisfying choice. They are brand new,and use to hold local spirits.


Does Auyun use manual irrigation?

In California and Australia,the grape roots are bout 50cm long, people use drip irrigation, which means, you give grapes the exact amount what it needs. But drip irrigation will make the surface soil too hard. While in Ao Yun, the grape roots are up to 3 meters, so they can absorb more water from soil and need no irrigation. Natural rainfall is enough for them. In dry winter, we do small range of flood irrigation from time to time. In this way, we can both offer waters to the vine and avoid soil hardening.


3 meters’ roots? I thought Ao yun had only young vines? How do you control the quality of the grapes? (By Lu Jiang)

We call five or six years old vines young vines. But vines used to make this bottle are already 15 years old. There are many local farmers who planted grapes in this area far before we purchase the estate. At the first two years, we did a lot of research and finally planted some grapes in the last year (2015). These baby vines need time to produce qualified grapes for wine. However, the wine in front of us is made by grapes from 15 years old vine with 3 meters’ roots. 15 years old vine took half of the area of our current vineyard.

In the past, farmers sell grapes to the winery by weight. So you can imagine, the only thing they care about is yields. After we came, we tell the villagers how to work through an interpreter, stay in complete control of quality and rationalize ourselves. We did a lot work here, for example we introduced rootstock grafting. Fisrt, this can improve grape quality. Second, it can prevent Phylloxera——no signs of it now, but once it occurs,it would be a disaster. We analyze the composition and structure of the soil and chose the most suitable rootstock. If the rootstocks do improve the quality, we’ll replant all the old vines.


So actually you have studied the vineyards since long ago?
Yes,we started to plant grapes in 2015,but begun to communicate with local government since 2012,and have been studying the field since 2008,8 years ago.



Currently how many varieties are planted in the vineyards?
Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot,Petit Verdot and some tested verities. Besides that, we planned to try Shira and Malbec, but stays undecided.

Does Domaine Chandon Ningxia purchase from COFCO Corporation Grape Seedling Base too?( By Lu Jiang)



How do you determine the time for Aoyun to come into the market officailly?
Its quality has been repeatedly confirmed that it can meet our strict requirements. Its performance is always stable. It is widely praised by all the international heavyweights in wine industry whom we sent the wine to. They all recognize it as a unique and great Cab, and the best wine in China. At this point, we thought we are ready to bring it to the market.


Could you describe Aoyun from your point of view?

It’s the new interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep color, with both fresh fruit and ripe fruit characteristics. Freshness and lively acidity is from the unique terroir. Many people would think of Pauillac the first time they smell it,with similar aroma like cigar, tabacco and cedar. While someone find it more like California wines, very fruity, delicious, full-bodied. For me it’s somewhere in between. The tannin is as elegant and structured as I expected. In a word, we don’t want to cater to a growing demand fo strong wines, but a sophisticated and graceful wine, the wine that can represent the sacred mountain and its terroir.



AOYUN 2013  Tasting note (By Maxime LU)

Intense with ripe black fruit flavors, violets and western spices, revealing a trace of smoke and dark chocolate. Full-bodied and crisp, fruity-forward, with strong and converged tannins and delicate texture. Balanced, in the last part you can feel it slight alcoholic. Tobacco and spices can be found in the long finish, Alc.=15%, Ph=3.55

You can still tell that it’s from new world, but indeed elegant. I must say it’s good. As for the price, you can listen to either LVMH ( because of the high cost, more than Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau D’yquem) or some critics(almost as expensive as Chateau Cheval Blanc and Opus one, so unreasonable), or just keep quiet, wait and see how it will behave in the market.

Maxime LU

法国香槟酿酒大师Hervé Deschamps访谈录

文:陆江(Maxime LU)

法国香槟著名的酿酒大师Hervé Deschamps先生,每次采访他,就像是上一堂香槟大师班。总能学习了解到一些新知识和有趣的酿酒理念。

Hervé Deschamps先生是法国香槟名庄巴黎之花(Champagne Perrier-Jouët)的首席酿酒师。从1983年起,他在巴黎之花已经工作三十多年。在他和团队的努力下,巴黎之花以雅致的风格,在业内建立了出色的品质口碑。


著名演员陈数和Hervé Deschamps先生

上月初,正好巴黎之花秋韵限量版美丽时光2005年份桃红香槟在华正式发布,Hervé Deschamps先生再度来华。






酿造这款秋韵限量香槟所使用的三个葡萄品种的比例是? 刚才您提到有些地块成熟度不太够,是否意味着会影响这款酒的品质

关于品种比例,秋韵虽然是在诠释一个新的主题,但其实还是建立在美丽时光系列的基础之上。这一款品种使用比例是45%霞多丽、50%黑皮诺,5%莫尼耶,与往年比例大致接近,只不过在最后调配的时候添加了相对强劲饱满的红葡萄酒。 当然调配时所使用红葡萄酒的比例和香槟最终表现的风格,是它与其他年份的最大不同。































血橙,红苹果,矿物,红醋栗气息,果香主导,中重酒体,集中,口中微涩感,酸度虽高,不过和酒体达成平衡,并不尖锐,果味充沛,细致复杂,回味长,回味中有红苹果肉的味道。 因为红葡萄比例较高,相对饱满,不像2007那么细腻轻盈。







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文:王智慧 | 葡萄酒在线




1. Treinta Y Dos, Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir


酒庄:Bodega Chacra
产地:Patagonia, Argentina
Wine Spectator:92
Wine Enthusiast:92

酒庄名字Charca是当地语言雪融水灌溉中会使用到的术语。它是阿根廷最顶级的黑皮诺,也是阿根廷最昂贵的葡萄酒之一。酒庄位于阿根廷Patagonia北部的 Rio Negro谷,2004年由Piero Incisa della Rocchetta建立,他家与葡萄酒渊源深厚,祖父一手创立了举世闻名的意大利超托Sassicaia(西施佳雅). Chacra 有三个黑皮诺老藤葡萄园,他们虽然也做别的,但主业就是黑皮诺。事实上是2001年时Incisa的朋友先做了一款这个产区的黑皮诺,Incisa盲品之后信心满满的断言出自勃艮第,结果想当然的被震惊到了,紧接着就毫不迟疑的飞到这里来,买了一个始栽种于1932年的当时已被半荒弃的黑皮诺葡萄园,后来又买了两个,分别栽种于1955年和1967年。我们这里的Treinta Y Dos,是它种于1932年的单一园。此外它家还有个用这个园子的年轻葡萄酿的低端款。


Piero Incisa


2. Montevetrano S. Imparato


酒庄:Azienda Agricola Montevetrano
产地:Campania, Italy
Antonio Galloni:92

意大利南部坎帕尼亚的膜拜酒,连续15年荣获大红虾三杯,也是意大利各大酒评机构的宠儿。酒庄建庄于80年代中期,占地26公顷。90年代时酒庄由喜爱波尔多的美女摄影师Silivia Imparato接手祖父的工作,开始管理酒庄并引进了国际品种,大大提高了酒的原有品质。坎帕尼亚(Campania)产区有许多传统有趣的当地品种,其中知名度最高的便是Aglianico,单宁浑厚,酸度活跃,陈年实力突出。而我们这款,是Aglianico和国际品种赤霞珠和梅乐的混酿。本质上是超级托斯卡纳的坎帕尼亚版本。年产量大概有3w瓶,第一个年份是1989年。


Silivia Imparato

3. Clos l’Eglise


酒庄:Clos l’Eglise
产地:Pomerol, France
Robert Parker(WA):96
Wine Spectator:94

Clos l’Église位于波尔多右岸波美侯产区,是一座历史可追溯到18世纪的名庄。那时它葡萄园面积还是14公顷,是土地金贵的波美侯地区当时面积最大的葡萄园之一,后因继承权分为两块,Clos l’Église 分到了较小的一块6公顷,但继承了原酒庄的名字,随后于1997年被Garcin家族以1700万美金买下,酿酒顾问是前任波尔多名酒联盟主席ALAIN RAYNAUD。


这款酒以传统方式酿造,使用大木桶进行发酵,100%新桶进行二次苹果酸乳酸发酵,根据年份不同有16-18个月的桶中陈年。不似右岸常见的果味,反而激情肉欲。ROBERT PARKER说它,“一年之后,一只丑小鸭长成了白天鹅,甜美果酱、黑樱桃利口酒和果肉香气恰到好处的被橡木桶带来的烟熏味道补充完整,中度至饱满酒体,圆润,丰富,口感华丽,是肉感又性感的的波美侯。”

4. Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie


酒庄:Domaine Jamet
Robert Parker(WA):96
Wine Spectator:97
Wine Enthusiast:93




现任庄主Jean-Paul Jamet

5. Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas 2012


酒庄:Domaine Auguste Clape
Robert Parker(WA):98
Wine Spectator:96


酒庄位于北罗纳的Cornas产区,以其所有者Auguste Clape的名字命名。Auguste Clape被公认为北罗纳葡萄酒最伟大的先驱者之一,当地第一个将自己种植的葡萄酿酒并装瓶的人。酒庄葡萄园只有8公顷的老藤,位于阳光明媚的,陡峭的梯田之上。葡萄尽可能晚摘以获得最佳成熟度,这常常意味着与天气的博弈。他们没有特定的耕种模式,依据传统方法,凭借直觉、感觉和经验来种植葡萄。听起来似乎有些不靠谱,但我们这里说的Cornas,他们的旗舰款,可是被认为是法国口碑最好的葡萄酒之一,会在容积为600-1200升的大木桶中陈酿22个月,酒体偏雄壮,单宁成熟度如前所述非常非常好,也是人生必喝系列。



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