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Laura Catena: ‘exceptional wine sites exist globally, not just in France’

Argentine vintner Dr Laura Catena has released her book Gold in the Vineyards in Mandarin, adding three new chapters on Chinese wineries to make the illustrated guide “more relevant” to the country’s growing wine market.

Laura Catena: 'exceptional wine sites exist globally, not just in France'

The latest version of Gold in the Vineyards is its fourth iteration, having been previously published in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Catena co-authored the book — “百酿成金” (Bai Niang Cheng Jin) in Mandarin — with Professor Li Demei, a wine consultant and winemaker, who has served as a technical consultant for several Chinese wineries.

Three chapters added to the latest version of the book focus on three of China’s most influential wineries — Domaine Franco-Chinois, Silver Heights and Puchang.

“I decided to publish the book in Chinese with three additional (Chinese) wineries because I noticed a lack of similar books in China,” Catena told db.

“Initially, I wrote the book because I couldn’t find a resource that shared the family stories, joyful moments, tragedies, and journeys of the world’s most famous vineyards in a fun format with illustrations (I love illustrated books). I aimed to highlight that exceptional wine sites exist globally, not just in France.”

Catena explained that the factors which contribute to a place becoming renowned for its grapes are often “unpredictable”, “which is why I titled the book ‘Gold Vineyards’ – much like finding gold, you can’t always predict where exceptional sites will be discovered,” she said.

Left to right: Richard Li, CEO de Domaine Franco Chinois; Emma Gao, owner and chief winemaker Silver Heights Winery; Dr Laura Catena; Professor Li Demei; Benjamin Bost, representative of E Guigal; Ted Zhang, representative of Gaja and J J Prum

The winemaker, who is managing director of Catena Zapata, spent four years consulting with Chinese importers, journalists, and reading “every book I could find on Chinese wine” to author the new chapters.

“Given China’s growing wine market and the increasing recognition of Chinese wines, I believed including Chinese wineries would make the book more relevant,” she said. “Each chapter showcases a unique wine with a compelling story, distinctive site, and special characteristics, like the grape variety. For instance, Romanée Conti is famous for its Pinot Noir, while Domaine Franco Chinois in China was a pioneer in cultivating Marselan, now the best-known variety in China. Silver Heights was the first Bordeaux blend to gain recognition in China, and Puchang stood out for its hybrid variety, Beicgun, made without sulfites – a delicious wine.”

Gold in the Vineyards launched in Mandarin during the Chengdu wine fair in March, where Catena Zapata joined forces with Fangsuo bookstore.

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