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Made-in-China wine to hit major airports
By Jiang Jingjing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-21 06:25

Bottles of made-in-China wine will, for the first time in history, be available in duty-free stores at the world's major airports.

Cognac giant Camus, also the world's leading tax-free shop operator, entered into a 10-year agreement with Chinese winemaker Dragon Seal over the weekend, vowing to sell the wine in 50 of its 4,000 duty-free outlets globally within six months.

The partnership is part of Camus' "Spirit of China" project. The French company has already struck deals with top Chinese liquor companies Moutai, Gu Yue Long Shan and Chunghwa Cognac, a liquor jointly developed by Camus and a leading Chinese cigarette company. These liquors are already on Camus' store shelves.

In the agreement with Dragon Seal, Camus will introduce the company's signature Osmanthus King wine to its shops.

Osmanthus wine is only produced in China.

Since last September, Camus President Cyril Camus started the plan to sell Chinese spirits in his tax-free shops at over 20 international airports, such as Rome, Paris, Bangkok, Singapore, Amsterdam and Helsinki.

The sales revenues of the Chinese products have reached US$250,000, which Camus believed is "a very good beginning."

"Such a figure should grow by 20 times in three years' time," he predicted.

As part of the project, Camus plans to train his salespeople about Chinese culture and basic mandarin conversation.

Camus, a fifth generation heir, can speak fluent Chinese and has been directly involved in marketing initiatives in China. He and his Chinese wife, Isabelle, were married in 1999.

He said he sought out Dragon Seal because the 95-year-old Chinese company only uses grapes from China.

"The company follows the French concept of one terroir, which is important to guarantee the consistent quality of wine," he said.

Terroir is a certain region belonging to a specific vineyard and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions and winemaking savoir-faire.

"I can see that Dragon Seal spends huge effort on planting grapes and brewing wine," he said.

The wine history is not very established in China, but Dragon Seal's development represents the most prosperous period of the sector, Camus said.

"Joining Camus' duty free shop system will help us enhance the brand image. This 10-year partnership will definitely bring pleasant result to our exports," said Liu Chunmei, general manager of Dragon Seal,

Dragon Seal is China's largest wine exporter.

Its export volume reached 1,000 tons last year, accounting for 10 per cent of its total output.

By 2010, the firm aims to export 18 per cent of its output annually.

"We mainly export to European countries, such as France, Germany and Belgium, which are traditional wine-making countries," she said.

She added that the company pledges to further expand its export destinations this year, mainly to Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Currently Dragon Seal's exports account for 10 per cent of the firm's output, and it expects the percentage to hit 18 per cent by 2010, Liu said.

The two parties will develop a packaging and advertisements for the wine that will be sold in airports, in hopes of appealing to international travellers.

(China Daily 02/21/2006 page9)

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