A documentary tribute to Gérard Colin, the pioneer behind China’s vineyards

Thursday May 09 2019 by Vitisphere

In China,Gérard Colin was a real star. “Our wine emperor” says one of his client.In China,Gérard Colin was a real star. “Our wine emperor” says one of his client. - Photo credit : La Fabrique des écritures

In China, the tradition of ‘ganbei’ is well established. “We are not in a winery to do ganbei, guys”, says consultant winemaker Gérard Colin, with a slightly exasperated look, in the 63-minute documentary ‘Château Pékin’, directed by anthropologist Boris Pétric and produced by La Fabrique des Ecritures. Gérard Colin, who died of a heart attack in February 2017, was instrumental in developing Chinese vineyards, spending more than 17 years creating and establishing new estates. As one of his clients says, he was a real star, “our wine emperor”. One of his most noteworthy achievements was creating the “Chinese Lafite” in 2006, by taking charge of the Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) project.

Gérard Colin, the main character in ‘Château Pékin’, admits that he came to China by chance, after the family estate in Saint-Émilion was sold. Drawn by the challenge of creating winegrowing landscapes from scratch, the winemaker played a key role in a Chinese vineyard driven by the ambitions of the communist government (“the objective is to plant 800,000 hectares”). In his opinion, the challenge is to find the right vineyard sites. As he explains to a Chinese businesswoman who wants to plant an organic vineyard in Li-Jiang (Yunnan province), you have to spend time prospecting, even if that means using certain tricks. In China, “where there were tombs [of Taoist monks], there are great vineyard sites. In fengshui, a dead man must have his feet dry and in the sun. A vine is the same”, reveals Gérard Colin, adding that it reminds him “of the Cistercian monks who created the great vineyards of Burgundy”.

 

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