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Cheng Davis (second left), Westgate Group board member, talks about wine with Paul K. Kelly (second right), chairman of Changyu Kely Estate of New Zealand. Ju Chuanjiang / China Daily
International guests visit Changyu's 1,200-square-meter pavilion at the ongoing 6th Yantai International Wine Expo. Ju Chuanjiang / China Daily
Changyu Pioneer Wine Co, China's oldest and largest wine producer, held a series of activities from June 26 to 28 to mark its 120th anniversary.
The celebrations attracted more than 600 people from around the world to Yantai, the home of the company, including representatives of the world's leading wineries and officials from China Alcoholic Drinks Association.
"As China's first winery, established in 1892, Changyu has made lots of achievements in the past 120 years. But we won't rest on our laurels, and we strive to seek more robust growth," said Zhou Hongjiang, general manager of Changyu.
The celebration was kicked off with a grand concert staged at Yantai Sports Park on the evening of June 26.
The following day, a tasting and appraisal event was held at Changyu Wine Culture Museum, where 23 world-famous wine experts commented on 20 types of Changyu wines and liquors, ranging from its bestselling Changyu Jiebaina Dry Red Wine to the award-winning Century Cellar Dry Red Wine and VSOP Brandy.
"The Changyu Jiebaina Dry Red Wine is a very fruity one on the nose. The oak flavor is well integrated by the wine. The finish is complex, with an aroma like a cigar box," said Nicolas Besse, CEO of French Seguin Moreau, one of the world's premier manufacturers of barrels for aging wine.
"The Changyu Century Cellar Dry Red Wine has quite good color and transparency. Its taste is soft and smooth," said Wang Junyu, one of China's top sommeliers, or wine experts.
Sommelier Pierre Barthe from France said he is "glad to see that Changyu can produce great white wines, red wines, sweet wines and brandies - all different products but all at a very high level".
"They compete very well with the French wines," he said.
During the festivities, Changyu presented 300 millionth bottle of its Jiebaina to the China Alcoholic Drinks Association.
Changyu Jiebaina was created in 1931 and rated as one of the world's top 30 wine brands in 2008 Salon International de l'Alimentation, a food and drink expo held in France.
Since 2006, it has been exported to some 28 countries and regions across the world, including Germany, Italy and France. It was the first wine from a Chinese company to gain wide recognition in Europe mainstream and can be bought in more than 3,000 super markets, shops, five-star hotels in Europe and even the first-class cabins of Lufthansa German Airlines.
Other activities included a Chinese grape and wine technology development forum, the Changyu wine dealer award ceremony and a contemporary Chinese art show.
Changyu announced an ambitious plan to establish a 413-hectare international wine city on the outskirt of Yantai, with an estimated investment of 6 billion yuan ($942.6 million). The project, expected to be completed by 2016, will be home to a national vine and wine research institute and a wine production center.
It will also include grape planting areas, an international wine trading center, a European-style village as well as the Tinlot wine chateau and Koyac brandy chateau, which are both targeting high-end market.
The wine production center will be equipped with 15 advanced production lines imported from Europe and cover an area of 220,000 square meters. It is anticipated to be one of the world's largest wine and brandy production plants, with an estimated annual production of 400,000 tons.
It is also expected to be an integration of research, winemaking as well as cultural tourism, and the company has pledged to make it into China's first 5A-class wine-themed scenic spot.
The company also announced it will seek more cooperation with the world's leading wine producers under its Pioneer International Chateau Alliance project and establish 1,000 stores to sell the alliance's wine across the nation in three years.
In 2009, Changyu teamed with four prominent chateaus in New Zealand, France and Italy to establish the alliance, the first of its kind in the world.
"Changyu will spare no effort to develop the alliance and look for more cooperation with prominent chateaus to provide consumers various wines from 18 major winemaking centers worldwide," Zhou said.
(China Daily 06/29/2012 page15)