Burgeoning Love For Bordeaux Inspires China’s Answer To “Sideways”

Silver Screen Sequel To 1998 TV Drama “Cherish Our Love Forever” Partly Filmed At French Chateau

Xu Jinglei (L) and Li Yapeng star in "Cherish Our Love Forever" (Image: Xinhua)

Xu Jinglei (L) and Li Yapeng star in "Cherish Our Love Forever" (Image: Xinhua)

Perhaps no wine-growing region in the world has benefited as much from China’s booming interest in wine than Bordeaux, which exported more of its signature red to mainland China last year than to the U.S. or Japan. As the majority of wine buyers in China remain predominantly male, broadly middle-aged, and often purchase expensive bottles with the intent of either investment or gift-giving, red wine — particularly French red wine — has been the dominant imported grape wine in China for years now. (However, the dominance of French reds is starting to slip, as more women, many of whom prefer white wine, become interested in wine, and as more wine producers from Chile, the U.S. and Australia increase exports to China.) The country’s demand is considered a major contributing factor to the rapidly rising prices for top-quality Bordeaux.

Reflecting the burgeoning Chinese interest in French wine, a Chinese film crew recently set up shop in Bordeaux, shooting scenes the a sequel to the 1998 TV Drama “Cherish Our Love Forever” at a sprawling 18th century wine estate. Starring actress Xu Jinglei as the wife of a Chinese wine estate owner, Li Yapeng as her former lover and Chinese pop singer He Jie as the mistress of Xu’s husband, the film version of “Cherish Our Love Forever” is expected to do for Bordeaux wine in China what the 2004 American film “Sideways” did for California wine in the U.S.

From the AFP:

[The crew’s] two-week shooting schedule took in some of the region’s most beautiful scenery — the medieval wine village of Saint Emilion, the dramatic Dune of Pyla, the quiet elegance of historic Bordeaux.

For the rest of the shoot — one third of which took place in France, two thirds in China — they used the vineyards and chateaux of a local wine family, the Gonets, to bring the life of a wealthy Bordeaux winemaker to life.

“Wine estates, castles, life in a chateau seems so far away for us. To see how wine estate owners live — it’s beyond what I imagined,” said Xu.

Local chateau owners rolled out the red carpet for the stars and director, initiating them to a centuries-old local wine association, or Connetable, before celebrating over a dinner of spit-roasted lamb and wild boar.

“Before Bordeaux was only a name, something I knew had to do with wine. I had no idea that the light, the beaches, the vineyards and the very old towns were so beautiful,” said Yibai Zhang, the movie’s director.

As the AFP goes on to point out, this film project receive a great deal of support from the local Bordeaux wine commission but also from the French embassy in Beijing, which hopes the film could spur more Chinese tourism to the region. Chinese tourists have previously shown an interest in visiting sites featured in popular movies, with visitors flocking to the little-known Xixi wetlands outside of south China’s Hangzhou after the success of the 2008 film “If You Are the One” (非诚勿扰).

The film is expected to debut next year around Valentine’s Day.

Categories

Culture, Food, Wine, & Spirits