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French fine winemakers take root in China

Some of France’s elite winemakers are planting vines in China, looking to produce the “perfect grape” in the country, according to Economic Times.

France’s Domaines Barons de Rothschild (DBR), maker of the renowned Château Lafite, is planting an initial 15 hectares (37 acres) in Penglai, a hilly green peninsula dotted with vineyards on the east coast of Shandong province with a century-long history of winemaking.

In addition, French luxury group LVMH – owner of Dom Perignon Champagne – has 66 hectares for sparkling wine production in the province of Ningxia, located in northwest China.

LVMH is also harvesting its first Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from 30 hectares in the cool hills of southwestern Yunnan, where both the weather and soil are in a promising condition.

Chinese vineyards have only recently begun to gain respect for cheap mass production. But so far Chinese consumers have largely given wine as a gift, so tend to buy expensive foreign labels for show and there is not too much demand for locally produced premium wine.

However, bottled results could still take years, as winemakers experiment with the terroir. DBR has already spent years blasting through thick layers of rock and digging up earth to create the ideal soil depth.

“Everything is completely different from what the company is used to in all the vineyards we have. Until the end we won’t really know what quality we should get,” says Richaud Olivier, DBR’s vineyard director.

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