Rhone winemakers bring awareness to Chinese market

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A group of winemakers from the Rhone region of France visited Hong Kong and Shanghai in late February to raise awareness of their wines.

Alain Graillot, owner and winemaker at Domaine Graillot and a spokesperson for Rhone Vignobles, said the group had been together since 1996.

The 15 winemakers – 14 men and one woman – cultivate their wines with respect for the environment.

“Some are organic, some are bio-dynamic; others apply the principles but not the label, while others are currently being certified. We cultivate sensibly, mindful of the soul and the environment.”

Laurent Combier of Domaine Combier said his father was the first in the northern Rhone to embrace organic grape cultivation in 1970.

Alberic Mazoyer runs Domaine Alain Voge since the latter retired from active winemaking, and has converted the estate to bio-dynamic principles. Alain focused on French markets while Alberic has pioneered foreign markets.

Hubert Valayer of Domaine de Deurre travelled the world looking at new techniques and combines transatlantic technology with French terroir.

Cecile Dusserre of Domaine de Montvac was a ballet dancer before she became a winemaker in her early 20s, and combines the two passions. Many of her wines are named after aspects of ballet.

Yves Cuilleron of Domaine Yves Cuilleron is known as “Mr More” because of his big plans. He rejects conventional thinking and makes wines he believes are unique to the region.

Francois Villard of Domaine Francois Villard trained as a cook before turning his passions to wine in 1989. Now he is one of the most regarded winemakers in the northern Rhone.

What was obvious from spending two days with the group in Hong Kong was their respect for each other and obvious friendship.

Some of the winemakers have agents in Mainland China and Hong Kong, while others were looking for representation.

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