The story appears on

Page B2

January 31, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » People

Many jobs lead to Shanghai bar

IT'S a long way from a swanky restaurant in the Eiffel Tower to a wine bar in Shanghai, but for Frenchman Vincent Landais the journey has enabled one of his life's ambitions to be realized.

A Shanghai resident for two and a half years, Landais stood behind the bar in his new two-story premises named Dr Wine last week, too busy welcoming customers to think about the gilded road that got him there.

He owns the bar in partnership with two others but it is clearly his wine knowledge and restaurant experience on which its future rests.

That knowledge is steeped in his childhood memories and was later further enhanced working with some leading purveyors of food and wine around the world.

Although he grew up around his parents' wine-tasting business in the small village of Sarthe near Paris, he pursued a career in banking and finance with Axa.

"I knew what my parents did, but I wasn't much interested in it because I didn't consider it was a job," he said.

After six months in banking he realized his mistake, so he hit the road to discover the world and learn English, getting as far as the hospitality industry in New Zealand. "It is easy when you are French to get a job in a wine bar in New Zealand," Landais said.

But he didn't fall into just any wine bar, ending up working with Stephen White, the doyen of New World Bordeaux-style wines at his Stoneyridge Vineyard near Auckland.

"I worked as a wine waiter and at the same time learned about wine making from Stephen," he said. "I realized that I loved it and had made a mistake not to be more interested."

He went back to France after 18 months and turned himself over to the Wine University in Provence for a year's training.

Meanwhile he worked as sommelier at a small restaurant in the south of France owned by celebrity haute chef Alain Ducasse whose fine dining outlets have won 13 Michelin stars. A year later his sommelier skills were further honed at renowned New York chef David Bouley's Manhattan restaurant.

A growing reputation took him back to Paris when Ducasse called for his help to take over the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, "taking me to the level of restaurant I was looking for," he said, then onto Ducasse's makeover of Restaurant Reche in the 17th arondissement.

"It was an amazing experience but at the same time I started to get a little tired of Paris and wanted to move somewhere else, another country, a new challenge. That's when someone who'd opened a trading company here suggested I come to China," he said. "So I quit Paris for a new experience in Shanghai, dispensing wine training and working as brand ambassador for a cognac for 18 months."

Since New York, Landais, 30, had dreamed of opening a wine bar and in Shanghai he met a willing business partner in entrepreneur Yann Quilbeuf.

Their "dream" is now reality and Dr Wine joins with gusto the burgeoning Fumin Road food and wine culture. But it's different from the Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai and soup outlets started in the past 12 months.

"We've tried to make it timeless in style," Landais said. "Shanghai is always looking for new designs, new concepts, always new, but if you go that way, the business may work for one year and then something else will come along.

"The wine bar is one of the oldest bar concepts all over Europe, even in the United States, so the only way to make sure we didn't go out of style was to be timeless."

There is a warm, classic French ambience at le bistro du Dr Wine, with leather couches, soft wood and brick textures, sparkling glass ware and wines from 18 countries ranging in price from 118 yuan (US$17.29) for a French cab sav to 45,000 yuan for a 1982 Chateau Lafite.

It also offers a symbiotic wine bar menu of imported meat and cheeses, rustic salads, soups and sandwiches, pates and pizzas dripping with cheese.

While Landais is hands-on in the bar advising customers on wines, Quilbeuf, 37, is enjoying life on the other side, assessing how to make the premises even more inviting, adjusting bits here, and adding there.

"The idea at the beginning was to use wood, iron and brick and we worked around these three materials to create a warm environment so people can feel at home," Quilbeuf said.

"The bricks are from an old house, the wooden floor is from a roof, the tiles and wood inside the cellar are reclaimed and the feature wall is made of discarded wine bottles."

Quilbeuf wanted the wine bar to be on Fumin Road because it is a shortcut between Huaihai and Nanjing roads and pedestrian and road traffic is busy. He hopes more restaurants will open because "we are good for the street and we need to be together."

And how did the name, Dr Wine come about? Without missing a beat, Landais said "Dr Louis Pasteur used to say wine is the best beverage to drink for your health."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend