Lu Yang has become the first master sommelier from China. Hong Kong-based Lu, the corporate director of wine for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts during the past five years, was born in Xinjiang, spent his teenage years in Shanghai, and studied in Canada, where he earned a degree in viticulture from Niagara College in 2007. This weekend, he passed an exam by the Court of Master Sommeliers to become one of fewer than 250 people with the master sommelier title
Lu, previously sommelier at Peninsula Shanghai, won the inaugural Penfolds China sommelier contest, co-organized with ASC Fine Wines, in 2008, as well as the second China National Sommelier Competition, organized by Tommy Lam, in 2010. His Chinese translation of “How to Taste” by Jancis Robinson went on sale in 2011. And, as noted in this Wine Business International article earlier this year, he is one of several people involved in establishing an official national sommeliers association.
“Face” is a very important part of our culture. You need to positively affirm a guest’s ideas if they are right, and correct them in an extremely subtle style if they are wrong. At the same time, you need to showcase your own knowledge in a humbly confident yet very delicate fashion, to somehow positively link your own proper knowledge with what they have just told you and what they believe, even though they might be wrong.
If you are able to do this, you will gain their trust, and more importantly, their fondness. This is a subtle art, and guests will keep coming back if you can master this. Also in China, sommeliers really need to be careful about the serving order for certain type of guests. It’s a big thing here.
The first master sommeliers exams were held in 1969, with the Court of Master Sommeliers officially established eight years later. The organization is led by president Gerard Basset, who is also a Master of Wine and a wine ambassador for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and founder and chief executive Brian Julyan.
Yang graduated from the Sommelier Diploma Program of the International Sommelier Guild in 2007 and passed level 2 of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam in 2008, both firsts for someone from continental China.
An article from GRAPE WALL OF CHINA by Jim Boyce
Rumours are circulating that Saint-Estèphe property Château Phélan-Ségur has been sold to the owner of a leading shipping company.
According to a tweet by Jancis Robinson MW that the drinks business has not, so far, been able to absolutely confirm, the Gardinier family has apparently sold the ‘cru bourgeois exceptionnel’ to Philippe Van de Vyvere, the owner of one of Europe’s largest shipping firms, Sea-Invest.
Details of the sale remain unknown although the château was reportedly put up for sale with minimal fanfare some two months ago.
Neither the château nor the office of Van de Vyvere have so far confirmed the sale although both have been contacted by the drinks business.
It is thought the family has sold the estate in its entirety and have not retained any shares although the technical team will remain in place, at least for the time being.
The Gardinier family has been at the helm of the château since 1985 and the three brothers, Thierry, Laurent and Stéphane (pictured) have been in charge since the late 1990s.
As well as Phélan-Ségur, the Gadiniers own the famous Paris restaurant Taillevent, which also has an outlet in London now, Les 110 de Taillevent and one of Champagne’s leading hotels, Les Crayères in Reims.
Why they might have decided to sell the property is not known. It is conceivable they wish to focus more on the hotel and restaurant trade and have thus divested themselves of what would otherwise be an expensive asset.
On the other hand, they have also poured huge investment into the estate over recent years and critics and merchants alike are in agreement that the quality and consistency of the wines has improved dramatically, with the recent 2016 vintage being one of the ‘best ever’ wines from the property.
It is widely admired as a brand and certainly punches above its weight for a cru bourgeois with many people no doubting believing it to be a cru classé on the basis of its renown, quality and price.
Asking prices certainly have risen at the estate, though certainly not out of step with other properties in the region. Phélan-Ségur is a large estate though, covering some 70 hectares and produces a lot of wine in an average year.
Is it possible that in a bid to raise the profile of Phélan-Ségur and price it as a cru classé, the owners have found it harder to shift stocks? Or perhaps they found they’d hit a price ceiling and weren’t able to take the label any further?
Another high profile château, Troplong-Mondot, was sold last month to a French insurance firm.
An article from The Drink Business by Rupert Millar
In March I gave several talks in Tokyo to Japan’s exceptionally numerous and exceptionally polite wine lovers in which I extolled the newfound virtues of English sparkling wine, writes Jancis Robinson in her column in the April edition of Sommelier India magazine. If anyone had told me, even as recently as 20 years ago, that I would be doing such a thing, I would not have believed them.
When I started writing about wine in the 1970s I was solemnly told that Asians would never embrace wine, that there was something about their physiology that would always prevent them from appreciating fermented grape juice. At that stage Asia was admittedly in thrall to beer and spirits but nowadays some of the most dynamic markets for wine are in Asia. And just before flying east I had, as usual, acted as a judge in the annual Oxford v Cambridge wine tasting competition.
All the top-performing blind tasters had been of Asian origin, as have been many of the WSET top students recently. But if the map of the world’s wine consumers has changed radically over the last few decades, the map of the world’s vineyards has changed even more radically and more recently. A major factor in the poleward drift of the world’s wine regions has of course been climate change. Although not every year is kind to them, English vignerons have been prime beneficiaries of warmer summers and riper grapes, so that there are now more than 2,000 ha (5,000 acres) of vines farmed by 470 growers and 135 wineries in the UK. Who’d have thunk it?
An article from Sommelier India by Kanika Dhawan