A commercial and cultural accord has been signed between Libourne, the closest city to the Pomerol and Saint Emilion vineyards in Bordeaux, and Pu’er, a high quality tea-producing region in the Yunnan province of southwest China.
Two Chinese delegations have visited Libourne since the accord was signed last month, and one French delegation has visited Pu-er, when the mayor of Libourne, together with the presidents of the wine syndicates of Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol and Fronsac travelled to Yunnan to learn about the tea culture in the province.
Philippe Buisson, mayor of Libourne, told decanter.com that intermediary for the initiative was Hervé Cayla, vice-chairman of the French Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. ‘There are many similarities between the two products,’ said Buisson. ‘Pu’er tea is harvested by hand each year, is labelled with a vintage, and can be aged for up to 50 years. Its taste is affected by the soil it is grown in, and the weather conditions during the year of harvest. It can also be a fermented tea, where bacterial action softens the bitter tastes into softer, sounder flavours, in a process very similar to malolactic fermentation in wine’.
Besides this, Buisson added, Pu’er tea is known for being rich in polyphenols, and is said to have health benefits in much the same way as the French Paradox is said to be linked to polyphenols in wine. Best examples can reach similarly high prices to the best wines of Pomerol and Saint Emilion, with 200g of the most sought-after examples reaching up to €1,200. Both regions can date local production of their product back well over 1,000 years.
To mark the cooperation agreement, in 2013 a Maison du Vin will open in Pu’er City to showcase the wines of Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Fronsac, Saint Emilion and its satellites Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and Saint Georges. At the same time, a salon de thé showcasing the range of Pu’er teas will run during Vinexpo wine fair in Bordeaux during June 2013. This outpost of the wine fair will be in Libourne, and there are discussions to make it a permanent feature of the city. At the same time, conferences, tasting workshops and research programmes are planned.
‘We understand the importance of export markets to our local producers,’ said Buisson, ‘and equally hope that Libourne can become the European centre and shop window for the teas of Pu-er’.
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