Tipple talk | Jean-Michel Cazes
Jean-Michel Cazes is perhaps the most influential man in Bordeaux wine. He got a late start in the wine business: At the age of 38 in 1973, after working as an engineer and IBM executive, he returned home to Chateau Lynch-Bages in Pauillac. He has boosted fifth-growth Lynch-Bages to second-growth level in both price and quality. Today, his influence - and his passion for life - is felt around the globe.
Photo provided to China Daily
Almost 25 years ago, when my wife and I traveled to Beijing for the first time, we couldn't hope that fine wine would become so popular in such a short period of time.
Our friend Johnny Chan, a wine pioneer in Asia, whom we had met when he started the Hong Kong Wine Club, had helped us organize our program. Although our main purpose was openly touristic, we had brought along a few bottles of our wine. We decided to rent a booth at a food festival and, during two full days, between a drive to the Great Wall and a visit to the Forbidden City, we offered the public a discreet Lynch-Bages tasting.
The very taste of red wine was foreign to our audiences. Passers-by would stop, stare and accept a taste, but would not bother to conceal their disgust for the tannic beverage that we presented them. Nevertheless, we had fallen in love with the country during this first visit. And with each subsequent visit, we observed that wine awareness was making rapid inroads in the country, driven by health consciousness and education. New actors were investing in the wine scene with much enthusiasm. Global wine knowledge was increasing rapidly. An original "art of drinking" was appearing gradually in China as it had in France and particularly in Bordeaux over the last four centuries.
For the French, wine long ago joined bread to become the basis of all nourishment, the essential beverage. We drink wine during our meals, when it is both necessary and wonderful. Matching wine and food is sometimes considered an art form. But it is an art which is easy, and open to all.
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