Decanter talks exclusively to Château Latour president Frédéric Engerer about his involvement in the first Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter, which takes place at The Ritz Carlton in Shanghai on Saturday 29th November.
How unusual is it to have all Five First Growths together at this tasting in Shanghai?
It’s completely unprecedented because it is the first time that the five of us have done a tasting together in mainland China. We’ve done one in London with Decanter as well as others in New York and Hong Kong. But never in Shanghai.
How much are you looking forward to it?
I’m genuinely excited by it for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I’m a wine lover and it means I’m going to be tasting some great wines. Secondly, because we don’t see each other as a group that much – even in Bordeaux. Thirdly, because we all get on, when we do meet up and there’s a lot of genuine mutual respect. Above all, I’m really looking forward to meeting old and new wine loving friends from Shanghai and answering their questions.
When did you first go to Shanghai?
It was June 1997, when we became interested in the Chinese market at Latour. At the time, there was no direct flight from Hong Kong and I had to fly from there to Macau and then on to Shanghai. I particularly remember it because of a fantastic cheese and wine party in Business Class. I’d brought some Comte cheese from my friend, the fromagier Bernard Anthony, which had become a bit ripe and sweaty. So the only sensible thing to do was eat it. Fortunately, I was travelling with a Taiwanese collector who also had two bottles of 82 Cos d’Estournel in his hand luggage. (It was allowed in those days!). So we shared the wine and cheese with our fellow travellers and everyone arrived in a very good mood.
What were the wine lists like back then in Shanghai?
Not great. The Hilton was regarded as having one of the best in Shanghai and all they had was a couple of vintages of Mouton Cadet and one of Lynch-Bages. And that was it. So it was light years away from where Shanghai is now. It’s a breathtaking transformation – in less than two decades.
Which are your two current favourite restaurants for wine?
If I had to pick two right now, I would definitely include Mr & Mrs Bund and Ye Shanghai in Xintiandi. Both have great lists and good prices.
Favourite places to stay?
One is obviously the Grand Hyatt with its fantastic river view. Then there are the Park Hyatt and the Peninsula. I also like the PuLi Hotel which opened in 2009. It’s more boutique than the others has a great pool and is very conveniently situated in JingAn.
Written by Decanter