Macron and Xi dined together in Shanghai on Tuesday evening (5 November) and the French president offered up a bottle of Romanée-Conti 1978 from Burgundy’s legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, according to France’s Le Monde newspaper, citing sources at the president’s official residence, the Elysée Palace.
A single bottle of Romanée-Conti 1978 was auctioned for £18,400 (HK$186,000) by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in January 2019.
It is the latest example of wine diplomacy, with Macron having served Petrus at a dinner with Xi on the French riviera earlier this year.
Tasting at Shanghai expo
Decanter.com can also reveal the wines tasted by the two leaders at the International Import Expo in Shanghai, where they marked a new deal between the EU and China to protect against food and wine counterfeiting.
They tasted three wines – from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Languedoc-Roussillon – according to Jean-Marie Pratt, the sommelier chosen by the French Embassy to host them at the expo.
‘It was an extremely special experience,’ said Pratt, who is a partner in distribution and consultancy business Liber Wines in China, and also a judge at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards.
Both leaders tasted all three wines and discussed them, he said, with Xi also commenting on the rising quality within China’s own wine industry.
The specific wines served at the expo, in order, were:
- Domaine Louis Latour’s Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2010
- Gérard Bertrand’s Château L’Hospitalet, La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc 2016
- Cheval Blanc 2006
Why was Romanée-Conti 1978 at the dinner?
Choosing one of the most renowned French wines was a way of marking a new deal over protected wine and food names between the EU and China, according to Le Monde, which quoted an Elysée Palace source.
The 1978 vintage was also recognition of Deng Xiaoping’s arrival as Chinese leader. He is credited with introducing reforms that opened up China’s economy.
Burgundy 1978 vintage
It also happens that ‘1978 was the finest vintage of the decade’, according to Decanter expert Stephen Brook.
However, ‘most of the growing season was awful’, and it was only fine weather from late August onwards that propelled the region’s Pinot Noir grapes to full ripeness, Brook wrote in a ‘Wine Legend’ article for DRC’s La Tâche.
A new deal to protect famous wine names
Macron’s visit coincided with a deal between the European Union and China to help prevent counterfeiting of protected names, from Champagne and Bordeaux to Irish whiskey.
The reciprocal deal gives better legal protection for 100 of Europe’s ‘Geographical Indications (GI)’ in China, and does likewise for 100 Chinese GIs in EU member states.
‘It is a win for both parties,’ said European agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan. Pending approval in the European Parliament, the deal will be implemented in 2020.
Wine dominated a list of 26 French GIs that will benefit from the new deal, according to a list published by the country’s agriculture ministry.