Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW
葡萄酒大师：PB Torres(Pedro Ballesteros Torres)
BRWSC：Being an authority on the Spanish wine industry, do you see any similarities or differences between Spain, one of the most important wine-producing countries and certainly the largest grape growing country in the world, and China, a nascent but fast developing “New World” of wines?
PB Torres： I see many similarities and as many differences as well. What is most similar is the quest, both in China and in Spain, for high quality wines that represent their respective landscapes, peoples and history. The differences are then huge: different climates, different soils, different market approaches and structures, different governances….But the main similarity is much more relevant than any difference: indeed, what is common to all real wine lovers is the active defence of diversity.
BRWSC：Can you please identify some of the areas that Chinese wineries and the industry in general need to improve on? (such as selection on grape varieties, wine promotion and marketing, wine education and etc.)
PB Torres：Grape varieties is definitely a key point for China. I think that China needs a relevant effort to research existing and new grape varieties that are really adapted to Chinese climates. Only by having the adequate genetic material, which by definition cannot be French or international, would China get in the league of top fine wine countries.
Education is also an important point, but I’m quite sceptic on following Western education models only. China needs to define and develop their own wine culture, provided it is a real culture. Wine can be enjoyed in a myriad ways, many more than those pursued by the western world.
BRWSC： Many “New World” wine countries such as Australia and America versus “Old World” wine countries such as France have rather different appellation of origin systems. When Burgundy is famously known for its countless climats, American wine regions are conveniently indicated by both political as well as geographical boundaries via AVAs. Why do you think there are such differences and how this may affect regional performances in markets?
PB Torres：Differences between New World and Old World indications of origin are due to political and historical reasons, not to genuine quality factors. It is up to each country to apply their own strategies, provided they respect the others’ and they do not allow fraud. Then it is up to customers to reward one or the other system. Having said this, I think it is definitely superior to protect the names of origin in all countries; this is something genuinely associated to territories. As soon as a country get decent wines, they get interested in protecting their names. Only those with mediocre quality use fake names. The New World got intensely active in creating indications of origin as soon as they get some quality in their wines. This is the tendency also in China, where Ningxia and other prestigious names are fiercely protected now.
Sarah Jane Evans MW
葡萄酒大师：SJ Evans (Sarah Jane Evans)
BRWSC：Wines and tourism in many regions are inseparable, places such as La Rioja, Napa and Barrosa Valley are not only known as successful wine producing regions but also regarded as must-visit destinations for wine aficionados and regular tourists alike. However, wine tourism still needs much development in China due to multiple reasons such as lacking of collaborations among wineries. What are your advices on promoting wine culture and regional economy through wine tourism in China?
SJ Evans：I speak from my experience of wine tourism in Europe, and in north and south America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Wine tourism at its best can obviously make a very positive contribution to the winery, but also to the local economy. Visitors will be encouraged to visit the region, and they will have a reason to spend longer there. Each winery needs to develop its own offer and to tell a different story.
One winery may have a very good programme for children, another may offer food and wine matching at its restaurant, another may have a strong commitment to education about vine growing and wine making, yet another may become known for musical events. Thus, by working together in a single regional promotion, the different wineries make a very attractive, diverse offer to visitors and can teach them about the safe and sensible enjoyment of wine. Local tourism needs to be involved to ensure that there are adequate hotels and places to stay. Wineries are one part of a regional tourism package that may include leisure activities in the countryside, or visiting historical sites. In a number of countries ‘Wine Routes’ linking local wineries have proved successful, and can be used in international marketing.
Finally, every winery must be committed to a programme that educates visitors about drinking alcohol in moderation, and the safe consumption of alcohol.
BRWSC：Many wineries are producing biodynamic wines and some question if biodymically growing grapes and wines thereafter are better reflections of terroir. What is your opinion on this phenomenon and do you think this value will be adopted by winegrowers in China ?
SJ Evans：Biodynamicsis the practice of working introduced by Rudolf Steiner. Whether it reflects the terroir better is debated, and there are many who are very strongly in favour. Whatis certain is that a producer working with biodynamics, or growing grapes organically, has to pay a great deal of attention to the vineyard.
Rather than simply applying chemical treatments to the vine according to a calendar, this way of working requires the producer to be more focused on the health of the individual plant. It does not work in every environment. It’sparticularly difficult in places of high humidity and high rainfall, for instance.
Every producer needs to think about the health of the people working in the vineyard. A biodynamically managed vineyard may be better for the health of the vineyard workers. Furthermore, it’s important for producers to look ahead. As consumers become more interested in their health, and the environment, and sustainability, then there may be an increasing demand for winesfrom biodynamically or organically grown grapes.Producers who are working this way already will have an advantage.
BRWSC：Some believe that the current grape varieties being grown in China are highly homogeneous and lack diversity. In your opinion, are there any lesser-known grape varieties which you believe might perform well in China, particularly in the areas of Ningxia and Shandong regions?
莎拉女士最新著作 《The Wines of Northern Spain》
SJ Evans：I am not yet familiar with the soils and climate, the terroir, of Ningxia and Shandong so cannot comment on this. What I would say is that these regions should focus on producing the best wines they can from their soils. This will inevitably involve continued experimentation over time. There is no requirement to use famous international varieties. The best wines may come from something lesser-known that is better adapted to the environment. It will be an opportunity for Ningxia and Shandong to show that they have something different to offer.
Joao Piers MS
侍酒大师：JP (Joao Piers)
BRWSC：Food and wine pairing is a relatively new concept to most of Chinese wine consumers, some believe that it is partially because of a plethora of Chinese food types and tastes being often shared among dinner tables, which makes it impossible to find a “one fits all” solution. What are your suggestions to restaurantuers, sommeliers, and wine trade professionals on wine pairing for Chinese cuisines?
JP：The first thing that comes to my mind is, does Chinese food needs wine or does Chinese food can anyhow be susceptible to be paired with wine? There is no such thing as a “one fits all” recipe as there is no such thing as Chinese food. There are various cuisines such as Cantonese, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Hunan, Shandong and many others. Most importantly the Chinese approach to the preparation and serving of food is very different from what Westerners are familiar with. For instance, the approach of sharing a concept that I love, as an example being the main course, where several different dishes are all served at once, with everyone helping themselves from the same dish makes food pairing quite a challenge to say the least.
A Chinese regular guest of mine once explained me that he likes to start with the most complex perhaps more expensive wine in the beginning of a meal allocating the less interesting ones to be poured in the end. This is truly the opposite in our Western culture but his argument support makes a lot of sense as he added that drinking the best wines in the end of the meal when you are possibly already drunk it’s not worth the investment. I have organized various wine dinners in our Chinese Michelin starred restaurants at Melco with authentic Chinese food but of course being served course by course and playing and managing various elements such as spice, sweet and sour and oily tastes as well as the richness and complexity of sauces.
A real challenge are desserts because Chinese normally prefer fresh fruit. When they do indulge in something special, instead of being loaded with sugar, the desserts are frequently filled with sweet and savory ingredients, from taro to sweet red bean paste. Our mindset needs to be reset to be able to understand why sweet wines sales are not quite successful in this part of the world. Even in our western world of sugar I tend to avoid sweet wines with very sweet desserts as it will taste so boring, so nauseating, so disgusting. Instead the key here is acidity to be involved, not only for the wine pairing balance but for the absolutely need of lift and cleansing of your palate.
BRWSC： Professional sommelier service is an essential part of the wine culture, and China has a unique wine culture or lack thereof. How do you think being a sommelier in China, one should keep the balance between respecting the local dinning cultures and observing the standard practices of a sommelier?
JP：The standards for a sommelier are not related with geography and different cultures. The main purpose of a sommelier is guest satisfaction. This means not only product knowledge, management and financial skills but most importantly the ability ʺto readʺ, respect and ideally to anticipate the guest expectations. That being said one need to bear in mind that the approach in London is different from the approach in Paris, New York, Tokyo or Shanghai. Operating in an environment such as London where I lived for 10 years, where most guests have a satisfactory wine knowledge background, very opened minded and price sensitive is totally different from a sommelier performing for instance in Macau a market driven by Casinos.
The one who survives it is not necessarily the strongest one, the most skilled and knowledgeable one, but on the contraire, the one who better adapts. Wine is not part of the Chinese culture and definitely the existence of a sommelier is quite a very recently born métier. Money develops the ability to attract fashions and trendies that our modern, high tech, fast moving world shortens distance and time. The speed of development is sometimes faster than the foundations that only time can fix. I arrived in China three and half years ago and I can tell you this is quite a different world. I have been studying, reading as much as I can, travelling and experiencing a culture with 5000 years, and this is so, so serious and powerful.
To inject our relatively young culture in a very old one it is not always a smooth transition. I honestly must confess that the sommelier proficiency and credibility in China is a long term commitment but I have absolutely no doubts of its success in the future. Our western vision will change for sure and that is not a bad thing at all. As Dr. Wayne Dyer an American philosopher and spiritual individual once said ʺwhen you change the way you look at things, the things you look at changeʺ.
因此，当我们相对年轻的文化去影响这个古老的文化的时候，过程一定是不轻松的。诚实的说，侍酒师的整体职业能力和公信力在中国还需要长时间的培育，但我坚信这个行业一定可以在中国变得非常成功。而西方的观念也一定会逐步改变，这真的不一定是件坏事。正如同美国著名的哲学家、智者韦恩·戴尔(Wayne Dyer)博士曾经说到“当你改变对事物的看法时，你所看到的事物也在改变。”(“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”)