Art de Vivre (I of II)

Another installment of Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything

The voice of the ToE episode announcer revealed! (her name is Mathilde) and she joins our host for this two part series about the intersection between France and China and wine. The story of the red obsession of Wealthy Chinese has been told many times, but what is going to happen when China’s elusive emerging middle class gets wine fever? Can wine transmit cultural values? Can it transcend consumerism? In this installment Benjamen and Mathilde traverse France to discover this vino nouvelle vague.

Chin chin with President Xi

Dominique Piron presenting his wine to President Xi

Xi Jin-Ping is famous for his crackdown on corruption. Chinese officials are no longer allowed to give or accept expensive bottles of wine. He’s is also trying to wean the population off of rice wine — Baijiu ( grape wine is just much healthier... you know — the French paradox..)

When the Chinese press reported on their encounter, Piron’s sales skyrocketed. And as more and more Chinese people start drinking wines like the ones Dominique Piron is producing, will they also discover French ideas about life? My hope is that this new wave of drinkers will embrace French ideas with the same passion and fervor they now have for hyper-American ideas — so they will reject the 80 hour work week, they will reject the idea that money equals success, and they will reject the idea that bigger logos convey greater status.

Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Cuvee Christiane

“…But you don’t have the Cuvee Christiane?Asked the guy from Hong Kong.“On this plot they have a very small Cuvée, said Vincent Clément, which is twice the price as this one I was presenting to him and he knew…”

Benjamen and Mathilde met with Joelle Brouard who teaches at the École Supérieure de Commerce in Dijon who told them that in the past 5 years 2/3 of the program are Chinese students. They also assign the students to stay at winemakers homes during holidays.

Sometimes French life could appear bizarre to Joelle’s Chinese students, especially when the family’s cat is named Free Tibet

“I also have a surprise for you”
“Would you marry me?”

The China Dream

Lily’s dream of living in a chateau has come true, in fact winemaker Jonathan has proposed to her in this webseries.

Jonathan’s mother is concerned to have journalists present at her son’s wedding but Lily tells us that she already has 20 eager journalists from China awaiting the ceremony.

Lily also has strange dreams of bearded baby girls…

Chateau de la Riviere in Fronsac

Your host went to Château de la Rivière in Fronsac which was bought by a Chinese group in 2013. The Chinese are going to turn the Chateau into a luxury hotel.

The aim for building this hotel is to share Chinese culture with French culture” said marketing director Thierry Disclyn.

Chateau de Mercurey, Mercurey

The Magic product

Wine has transformed almost every single person in this series, but for your host the person whom I believe most experienced this magic is a Chinese woman named Yang-Ping. After her studies, she took a leap of faith and quit her job in China to start a life in France.

Special thanks to everyone we met in France: Joëlle Brouard, Xavier Buffo, Olivier Desgouillons, Bertrand Devillard (Château de Chamirey), Thierry Disclyn (Château de la Rivière), Brigitte Dyan, Jean-Marc Gobineau (Château Laulan Ducos), Yanping Gong, Alain Guillot (Vignes Du Maynes), Mei Hong, Lili Juan, Karen Maxwell, Aurore Monot-Devillard (Château de Chamirey), Dominique Piron (Domaine Piron), Julien Revillon (Domaine Piron), Robert Tinlot, Gilles et Catherine Vergé (Domaine Vergé).