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Delhi Wine Club
Chillywood beats Bollywood to Bordeaux

Posted: Monday, 27 September 2010 11:59

Chillywood beats Bollywood to Bordeaux

A Chinese producer has selected an 18th-century French wine chateau to shoot his film- a sequel to an old, popular TV romantic serial, being set in the vineyards of Bordeaux, thus beating the dynamic Bollywood known for its initiatives in choosing new, overseas dream locations, the film being in an area virtually unknown so far to both the emerging wine markets as a location for shoots.

Twelve years after "Cherish Our Love Forever" ended its hit run on Chinese Television, the follow-up melodrama sees its two lead characters reunited in the sun-draped wine hills of southwest France. "They were looking for something picturesque, classical, old stones, countryside - basically everything that's typically French in their eyes," says David Hurst of Dublin Productions, according to the report by AFP.

Their 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 (Pilat) in the Arcachon Bay, the quiet elegance of historic Bordeaux.

"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," says the director of the movie.

There could be a reason for selecting Bordeaux as the location .China has become the most important export market for Bordeaux wine after Europe. Fine wines are seen as a byword for romance by urban Chinese consumers, and Bordeaux is synonymous with a sophisticated, yuppie lifestyle. "When Chinese people think of red wine, they think of Bordeaux," says a co-producer.

The project received support from the local film commission while the French Embassy in Beijing helped with visas, in the hope it could spur trade and tourism in a region that currently draws few Chinese visitors.

Shooting in France would need adjustments if Bollywood were to follow China and make a movie with Bordeaux or any other French vineyards as the location. Crews in Bollywood may be used to working 24*7 on location but the French crews work regular hours, rest on Sundays and break an hour for lunch, as the Chinese found to their surprise.

The producers initially planned to film in an Australian winery, but like an increasing number of Chinese businessmen, they had also become involved in the business of wine import. On a trip to Bordeaux in search of a chateau to buy wine for import, they met the seventh-generation Champagne producing Gonet family who are also the owners of several chateaux in Bordeaux and who hosted the shoot as a trade barter for free publicity in China's exploding wine market, according to the report.

Coincidentally, Indian Wine Academy (IWA) had taken a delegation to Vinexpo in Bordeaux including some members of the Delhi Wine Club a few years ago. The Gonet Family had hosted a dinner in which both the brothers Charles-Henri and Frederic Gonet were present to show them the winery as well. The group had stayed in a resort at the Arcachon Bay area.

When IWA organised a seminar at the French Embassy in Delhi entitled ‘After the French Paradox’, they specially organised Gonet Champagne to be served exclusively at the event personally attended by Michel Gonet. This paved way later to the launch of Gonet Champagne and wines from their Bordeaux estates, one of which is the location for the current Chinese movie.

Thanks to the Bordeaux location, the wine producing region will be known in China as the backdrop for a romance that hopes to reach an audience of millions. Wine product placement has had intoxicating results in the past, with the box-office hit "Sideways" credited with boosting sales of Pinot Noir at the cost of Merlot in the US.

James Bond, known by generations of movie goers to prefer martinis (shaken, not stirred) and Bollinger NV as well as Vintage Champagnes (’61,’69, ’75, ’88, ’89 and ’90 vintages- used in different movies) created a stir amongst spy-loving oenophiles when he uncorked a Chateau Angelus Premier Grand Cru Classé Saint-Émilion ‘82 to share with Vesper Lynd while traveling by train to Montenegro in the movie, Casino Royale.

Although there has been a spate of movies in the last couple of years where Bollywood ventured into the protagonists drinking non-descript wines, it has sadly lagged behind and has not so far featured a vineyard in India or overseas. With the whole wine producing wine world as its canvass including India and Bordeaux, the vineyard locations could well be used to popularize wines from the filmed countries or locations, with the wine industry in general getting a tremendous boost due to increased consumption  from the gesture.


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