Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shanghai, the city of delights

Visits :
We were invited to Jean Georges Three On The Bund, where I will probably host a promotional tasting during my next visit, if Jacky Goergler is OK with it, and met good people in the nice restaurant of the Meridien Hotel.
We also visited the superb Park Hyatt in Pudong, and its restaurant. The restaurants are located on the 91st floor (it is very high). Again, the lively and ambitious city of Shanghai is well showcased by this incredible concept, unfortunately missing in our country. The place was very professional, and the word “service” looked down upon. Next time, I will stay and eat there, and if Jean-Marc Nolant is OK, I would like to do a tasting event during my next visit to promote my wines and FTI, where I hold a few shares.

FTI’s anniversary went well. The event was full and even if I don’t like such event, there was a good atmosphere, a good buffet and the wines served were not too bad; “A Nos Amours” (to our love), was very successful, maybe because Valentine’s Day was taking place just a few days away. It helped the perception of quality of this well crafted wine by my friend Paul-Marie Morillon.

The Hilton, where I stayed was offering attractive rates and restaurants where we ate had a high level of quality and where they made a killer Peking Duck (the skin being the best part) and even Serge Allegre’s raclette was delicious.

In Beijing, we stayed at the Peninsula (with its Rolls Royce’s parked in front) and attended two meals organized at Solana’s Maxim’s for the press, with the help of Nicolas Carré, and in the evening, we had a very good dinner organized for a small group of Franco-Chinese at Boulud. The event took place in an incredible place (the former US embassy!). The meal was probably very expensive but was well paired with our wines, which were drinking very well. We met clients of Vilhardy with my friend Stéphane Bedenc. Time spent on this trip to China seemed again to fly by. FTI is setting up an office and a boutique; I can’t wait to see this new place.

Following China and its incredible vitality and energy, India puts us back in Asia’s imaginative world, with its contrasts, where poverty is highly visible and wealth is a bit more discreet, even though it is still noticeable.

Magandeep Singh took care of us and we enjoyed a nice meal at the Imperial where our wines are still present on the wine list (thanks to Pierre and Nicole). They had no more Présidial or Fleur Cardinale, so I hope that the sommelier will order these wines that did pretty well, but that’s another story… India is not China. Time here is philosophical, and there are not the sorts of restaurants like Boulud, Daniel and Ducasse found in Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai and which help open doors.

The TAJ chain doesn’t yet have the sommeliers and wines meeting the minimum standards of other chains. And even if we were able to drink good wines like “Grover réserve 2006” signed Michel Roland in an Indian restaurant or the very good “Terrazas des Andes 2006”, an Argentinian Malbec which we drank in the Lake Palace in Udaïpur (great place and superb hotel), it won’t be enough to turn India into a real market for our wines. Here too, wine lists feature a few high priced 1st growths reserved for wealthy, even very wealthy customers. The alternative being to propose a negoce wine and nothing for the middle class and wine connoisseurs, at attractive prices, etc…

So, hurrah for China, Korea, Japan, the US, France, Switzerland ! Still, there are plenty of countries where it is still possible to sell wine despite this incredible financial crisis.

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