You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Wednesday 1 July 2015

Potel: ‘beautiful future’ for Burgundy in Asia

17th June, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Burgundian producer Nicolas Potel has said that the region has a real future in Asia but that it must also realise there may be limitations to its ambitions.

EmelyNicolas-potel1-480x265Speaking to the drinks business at the offices of the Asian distributor of his estate Domaine de Bellene, l’Imperatrice, Potel said there was a “real and beautiful future in Asia” for Burgundy and indeed Pinot Noir from around the world.

“I was in a restaurant last night and we had a New Zealand Pinot and one from Oregon and it was perfect,” he said.

“Asian people love acidity you know. They also love a lot of tannic wines but you look at them with the cuisine and to me it doesn’t make sense. Chinese food and Burgundy is a great combination.”

That one can walk into a Chinese restaurant today and be provided with wine glasses if you bring your own bottle is, said Potel, a remarkable sign of how far Asia has come in the last 20 years.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia and I always said, the day you have Chinese restaurants serving wine it will be a big sign. They don’t always have a list but you can bring your own and they’ll give you a glass. It’s a big change in mentality.”

Nonetheless, there is still some way to go and, for Burgundy at least, Potel cautions that a more realistic, education-driven and above all personal approach is the best way for the region to cement its position in Asia.

There is a growing interest in Burgundy throughout Asia as palates develop and curiosity about wine deepens and Potel says this is “normal” and following a pattern laid down in markets like Japan and the US 20 to 30 years ago.

“Wine is complicated, people have no time to learn, they work like crazy. But they’re starting to understand. I think many thought Burgundy couldn’t age to begin with.

“Now, as they taste older vintages they see that it can age. It’s normal. you need to go through an education of taste to come to Burgundy.”

On the other hand, exporting cheaply to Asia is next to impossible, which makes what are already quite expensive wines less than an everyday choice for most blossoming wine enthusiasts.

“It’s difficult for ‘drinkers’ to afford the wines,” admitted Potel. “Sure there’s more money in Asia but drinkers here are like anyone, they can’t afford a bottle at €100 or more every day.”

His goal, therefore, is to target high-end restaurants and get sommeliers to sell the wine and find the consumers that really appreciate it.

“You need to make your own ‘groupies’,” he says cautioning that that there are perhaps too many producers coming to Asia and expecting to do business as it used to be in the US during the glory days where merchants and distributors bought cases by the hundred.

“It’s not like that in Asia,” said Potel. “Restaurants have lots of private rooms, they like privacy. For the price we’re selling wine for, we have to offer something special.”

It is a strategy that has served him well since he first began visiting Asia some 20 years ago. Private lunches and dinners are much appreciated by buyers across Asia particularly in Taipei he notes.

But he also adds that there needs to be a limit to Burgundy’s ambitions in Asia and a realisation (for the whole wine trade perhaps) that despite the room to grow that certainly exists there may very well be a substantial part of the Asian population that will never drink wine.

“You can’t bring in the whole population, it’s not in their tradition, their culture. It’ll take 100’s maybe a 1,000 years to change that,” he said.

“There’ll only be a small part of Asia that will become wine drinkers. A great part never will.”

Not to end on a down note however, he stressed that China and Asia were on the right track but producers needed a long term plan and had to be aware that you “don’t change a whole population in one generation.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Top 10 wines in the UK press

An "epic" Riesling, a "Grecian beauty" that "gobsmacks with opulent tropical more...

Wimbledon serves up English wine

Organisers of this year’s Wimbledon have decided to offer tennis fans English more...

Austrian wine importer launches in Hong Kong

A wine importer specialising in Austrian wines has launched in Hong Kong to more...

Head of On-Trade Sales

London, United Kingdom

UK craves Spanish wining and dining

British foodies are passing over Bordeaux and Burgundy in favour of Spanish more...

Oregon producer takes international view

One of Oregon’s youngest wine estates has partnered with Jackson Family Wines more...

Robert Parker says sorry to Burgundy

Robert Parker has admitted to the drinks business that he was “too more...

PR Senior Account Manager/Director

London, United Kingdom

Depending on experience

10 of Hong Kong's oldest bars

To commemorate the 18th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover on 1 July 1997, more...

The Proust Q&A: Lorenzo Zonin

Italian winemaker Lorenzo Zonin opens up to db about cooking naked, more...

BBR to host pop-up dinners in 'secret' cellar

Berry Bros. & Rudd has unveiled a "secret" cellar underneath its shop in more...

PR Manager


Burgundy headlines at Acker’s June HK auction

Featuring smaller-sized lots and classic vintages of Burgundy and Bordeaux, more...

Beer festival in China’s Muslim area angers 'exiles'

In China’s predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, exiled groups of Uighur more...

Top 10 Hong Kong craft beer bars

Anyone looking to quench their thirst with a ginseng microbrew should more...

Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom

Based on experience

Mumm rereleases key vintages in Hong Kong

Due to the region's increasing interest in bubbles, G.H. Mumm has relaunched more...

Bilingual 'tool' demystifies wine tasting

The Australian Grape and Wine Authority has developed a new "tool" which more...

Men down $1k of ‘aphrodisiac’ wine at airport

Two Chinese air passengers downed an entire bottle of aphrodisiac wine after more...

Digital and Communications Executive

£22,000-£26,000 dependent on experience

Oddbins woos Naked staff with love letters

Oddbins has allegedly been sending love letters and bottles of wine to key more...

Mateus rosé clears up its design

Portuguese rosé brand Mateus is switching to a clear glass bottle this summer, more...

Top 10 wines in the UK press

An English fizz fit for Wimbledon, a "chunky, berry-stuffed" Negroamaro and a more...

Business Development Executive

London, United Kingdom

£25-£30K + benefits, depending on experience

Q&A: John Barbier, the Colorado cook-vintner

“I have never followed a recipe in my life, I’m a man of instinct”, more...

The week in pictures: Hong Kong

The new Veuve Clicquot cocktail, the indefatigable Etienne Hugel and tasting more...