In the heart of Paris, under the shimmering lights of the Ritz Paris and the grandeur of the Musée d’Orsay, a historic moment unfolded, blending the worlds of art, technology, and viticulture. This was the stage where Domaine Franco-Chinois and its sister winery Canaan Winery, a project born out of Sino-France cooperation, had its homecoming.
This momentous event was orchestrated by HTC, a leader in innovative smart mobile and virtual reality ecosystems and co-sponsored by Domaine Franco-Chinois and Canaan Winery. Together with its VIVE Arts team and the esteemed Musée d’Orsay, they unveiled “Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: The Final Months,” accompanied by the immersive VR experience “The Palette of Van Gogh,” in early October.
A Historic Pour
In this celebration of innovation and artistry, Domaine Franco-Chinois and Canaan Winery, achieved a landmark feat. Their wines made a historic debut in France as the official wine for the exhibition, marking the first instance of Chinese wines being served at the prestigious Ritz Paris and within the hallowed halls of the Musée d’Orsay.
Richard Li, who amassed decades of experiences in the wine industry before joining the winery as CEO in 2019, underscored the significance of this achievement, “The sommelier of Ritz hotel told me since the opening of the hotel there has never been any Chinese wines being served. He and his team had heard of Chinese wines making progress but had never seen one as they are not yet widely distributed outside of China. We hence invited the audience to witness the opening of the first bottle of Chinese wines at Ritz, a historical moment at this historical landmark hotel”.
A Sino-French Viticultural Adventure
The journey of these wines traces back to 1997, with a historic meeting between then French President Jacques Chirac and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. This meeting catalyzed several joint initiatives, including a collaboration in winemaking. The establishment of Domaine Franco-Chinois in the Huailai Basin, nestled among the Yan and Taihang Mountains, marked a pivotal chapter in the introduction of France’s esteemed winemaking grapes to China, at the time when the country’s own grape ambition was awakening.
In 2001, the first batch of French grafted vines, including Marselan and Petit Manseng, arrived in Huailai. Marselan, in particular, has gained prominence over the years and has since become a cornerstone of Chinese winemaking, often hailed by many as China’s signature grape.
By 2010, the winery’s vision had expanded significantly. The Canaan Investment Group acquired Domaine Franco-Chinois, which is located right next to Canaan Winery established during 2006-2009. This merger was a testament to the growing sophistication and ambition of Chinese winemaking.
Over the years, the vineyard’s planting and winemaking technical team led by Desheng Zhao and Maria ZhangHui has continued to delve into the exploration of the terroir and the adaptability of the varieties, achieving today’s quality.
“France and China, two of the most ancient civilizations, always had a deep love for art and food. By bringing a Chinese wine, a symbol of the collaboration of our two nations to a French museum, we deepened that bond and appealed to all the senses at once,” Li remarked, highlighting the cultural synergy.
“Ours wines are launched to the local market since year 2019, and have gained extensive exposure through partnership with high-end restaurants, retail, as well as direct sales to VIP customers. Today in Paris, it is a great event which helped us gain international exposure outside of China. The magnificent location was a reflection of the high quality we strive to achieve with our wines.” Li stated with pride. “Outstanding location for outstanding wines. We could not have thought of a better place to serve our wines surrounded by some of the most well-known art pieces. This event showed that we only want the best. That is also the reason why we control everything from A to Z at the vineyard.”
Approximately 180 guests, including luminaries from the French art and media sectors, experienced the estate’s top-rated wines at the welcome and preview dinners, such as Domaine Franco-Chinois Réserve, Domaine Franco-Chinois Réserve Marselan, Domaine Franco-Chinois Petit Manseng, and Canaan Chapter and Verse Mastery Riesling.
Pierre Labruyère, one of the early architects of Domaine Franco Chinois, was also present at the dinner, witnessing the culmination of a project he had been instrumental in developing. His role, under the French Ministry of Agriculture, in planting, training personnel, and coordinating the initial collaboration, was now bearing fruit, showcasing a remarkable journey from inception to international acclaim.
As the event concluded, its impact resonated well beyond the opulent halls of the Ritz Paris and the historic galleries of the Musée d’Orsay. “Art is a common language which bonds people together, so is a good bottle of wine,” reflected Li. “DFC was born at a time when China and the Western world were seeking closer ties, a symbol of this great nation of the East meeting the West.”