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December 3, 2009

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Bordeaux's best with Chinese food

THE fruits of the acclaimed French wine growing region of Bordeaux are again on the lips of wine drinkers, with Mecuris Fine Wines showcasing the offerings of the 2006 vintage.

Bordeaux's red wines have been particularly popular in China, with the appellation seen as a status symbol among well heeled wine lovers and more than 40 wine makers were on hand at a recent tasting at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Mecuris also demonstrated the ability of the finest Bordeaux offerings to partner a range of classic Chinese cuisine at a recent wine dinner at Noble House Restaurant in the grounds of the historic Anting Villa in Xuhui District.

The dinner included five grand cru class chateaus, including Climens, Brane Cantenac, Ferriere, Haut Bages Liberal and Larrivet Haut Brion.

Cru is a French wine term which means "growth place" and is often used to show a specifically named region, rather than any vineyard.

Grand Cru is a regional classification highlighting vineyards with a consistent reputation for outstanding wines and was established in Bordeaux in 1855.

Wine makers from four of the chateaus in the region were on hand to introduce their wines which were partnered with a range of dishes including abalone, shark fin soup, pigeon and beef with black pepper sauce.

One of the most popular wines at the tasting and wine dinner was the sweet wine from Chateau Climens, a 1998 Sauternes 1st Grand Cru Classe wine with a light minerality and flexibility that defies the convention that a sweet wine must be partnered with cheese or dessert.

Paired with a fried rice with crab meat and roe dish, the sweetness and richness of the wine complimented Asian cuisine - a fact that Virginie Achou Lepage, the communications director, says makes it potentially popular in China.

"We regularly hold wine diners at Chateau Climens that consist entirely of Chinese food and our wines can be enjoyed as an appetizer, during the meal, or with a cigar after a meal."

Prices for the limited releases of Bordeaux wines change regularly and the 1998 Sauternes was selling for 2,100 yuan (US$308) a bottle at the end of November.

On hand to discuss his wines was the wine maker and general director of Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion, Bruno Lemoine, who says the vineyard's 2006 vintage had all the hallmarks of classic Bordeaux wines.

"For red, it is very classical with a lot of structure and quite a full body but it is tasting a bit young now," he says.

"But for white it is wonderful and perfect to drink now or to be stored for five years," he says.

The 2006 red is a blend of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and 40 percent merlot.

The Chateau is known for accessible drinking wines, with Lemoine saying: "We don't want to be a superstar, I just want to produce the best wine at a price."

Lemoine joined the chateau in 2007 and is a veteran of the early days of Chinese wine making. After he graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Agronomie in Montpellier in 1985, he worked for Dynasty in Tianjin on some of their initial forays into wine making.

"It was a pioneer, it was incredible. We came with French technology and French wine makers and we tried to do our best," he says. "We tried to make wines that matched with the Chinese food."

A range of fine French wines are available from Mecuris Fine Wines and anyone seeking more information can contact Eve Xia at or 6298-7981.


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