Interview of Vincent Cervoni, ambassador of Corsica Wines in China

Corsica Wines in China

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Vincent Cervoni and I am 25 years old.

I have just graduated from Bordeaux Business School where I was the President of the Oenology Club, the most important in France. It was around this time that I became interested in wine; appropriate given Bordeaux’s long heritage of winemaking…

After a formative and enriching stint at Danone Dairy, I decided to get back into the wine industry rather than in yogurt. I joined the Sopexa team in Shanghai in 2012 from which I got exposure to and expertise in the Chinese wine marketplace. After that, I met Bernard Sonnet and Caroline Franchi, the Director and the Communication Manager within the Corsican Wine Board (CIV Corse) at the Vinisud Wine Exhibition in Shanghai. There was an immediate connection between us and Corsican wineries received tremendous feedback from Chinese buyers. As a result, we decided to establish an office in Asia, with the help of the Minister of Foreign Trade, Nicole Bricq, and the French Trade Commission teams in Paris and those in China & Hong Kong.

What is your mission?

Given both my Corsican and Vietnamese origins, working in Asia for Corsican wines is a great challenge to which I am really devoted.

I have two main goals:

–       Establishing and running the Asian office for the Corsican Wine Board. This means creating, developing, and promoting the image and awareness of our wines throughout Asia (HK, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Mainland China, Japan, and South Korea…)

–       Developing the wine sales within these countries, especially by identifying market opportunities for six winemakers: Le Domaine Vico/Clos Venturi (AOC Corse), le Clos Culombu (AOC Corse Calvi), le Clos Canarelli (AOC Corse Figari), le Domaine Orenga de Gaffory (AOC Patrimonio), le Domaine Terra Vecchia/Clos Poggiale (AOC Corse) et Les Vignerons d’Aghione (AOC Corse)

Working with customs, freight, marketing agencies, customers and Corsican winemakers on the same day is really nice. Being 25 and alone in Asia is a real personal challenge but people in Asia have been very nice.

Thanks to Greek and Roman influence, Corsican vineyards are one of the oldest in the world. Nevertheless, Corsican winemaking has really been structured since the 90s. By dint of patience, work, and talent, the wines are now recognized by leading critics and sold at the finest restaurant tables.

Can you speak about the arrival of the Corsica Wine in China?

With their recent fame, some visionary wineries are pioneers in the great adventure that is the export market. Corsican wines have been developing fast in the United States for the last few years. Corsican winemakers now look to Asia as a source of further development. Today, however, Corsican wines have only a minor presence in the area, everything is still to be built.

Our Asian office was established in January 2014 in the Consulate General, more precisely in the French Trade Commission, in the French Consulate, in Hong Kong.

I was in Shanghai last week for the Bettane & Desseauve Shanghai Wine Experience where Corsican wines were really appreciated! Wines appealed to local professionals and consumers who are looking for new tastes and French wines, authentic and fine.

 Do Chinese people know Corsica?

Most Chinese people know Corsica without even knowing it!  Indeed, they have heard about Napoleon without being necessarily able to locate geographically the island. He is well known here.
 Bluewater beaches, untouched nature, the generous and delicious gastronomy, and the wines which grew up in amphoras are so many images that give them cause to dream. They often compare Corsica to Hainan Island, Sanya.

What are the specificities of these wines?

The arrival of Corsican wines in Asia is a surprise for most people but actually reflects our wines and our claim: “Definitely unexpected.

The main interest in Corsican Wine is to taste a unique wine made in France.

Our wines are definitely different from others because they are made with indigenous Corsican varietals such as Niellucciu , Sciaccarellu, or Vermentinu . Also, more and more winemakers are replanting old Corsican varietals (Biancu Gentile, Carcaghjolu Nera Aleatico …). Increasingly, they are going back to nature by working with biodynamics. It means a total return to terroir. Moreover, as Pierre Gagnaire rightly pointed out:  “We cannot talk about Corsican wines without saying that you will find the aromas of the landscapes inside every bottle of wine” Indeed, wines fully reveal the terroir and the untouched nature.

Corsican wines, therefore, entail a new alternative to the French Wine offering and allow professionals to offer a unique French wine, loaded with stories to tell customers.

Which are the targeted consumers?

Everybody can find her/his own favorite Corsican wine thanks to the diversity of wines available. These are for anyone who wants to discover a unique experience because of different flavors from the very popular varietals such as Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Black, Chardonnay… 

More generally, Corsican wines are an invitation to escape to all those in search of novelty, typical, and French made wine. 

What marketing operations are for Corsica wines?

Above all, we arrive in Asia as humble and modest newcomer. (All advice is welcome)

Nevertheless, even if we are a small player in the Chinese market, we want to invite all Chinese people to taste our fine wines.

Our approach is based on sincerity, generosity, friendliness, and originality, as the vineyard is. Thus, we have been involved in many projects both off and online:

–       We participated in the Salon Bettane & Desseauve Shanghai in March and we will have a stand at Vinexpo Asia (Stand # 3 R78 ) in Hong Kong and at Vinisud in Shanghai, in October. It would be a pleasure for me to meet you.I am able to arrange tastings on request.

–       We are also developing our digital strategy with the creation of an Asian website, a Facebook, an Instagram account, and a WeChat profile.

The Corsica winemakers would be delighted to welcome Chinese people to Corsica!

What are the main objectives of Chinese people when they hear something about Corsica wines?

To be honest, the welcome so far has been very good and the wines we are presenting are stimulating curiosity in the market. Chinese people are eager to learn, they are delighted to taste new French wines in an over-saturated market.

The only fear that some may have is that Corsican wines are still a relative unknown in China. We have neither the means nor sufficient volumes nor the staff to be as much of a presence as some other wine regions. That is why Corsican Wines have a real advantage in the Asian market.
And if every Chinese person drinks just one bottle of Corsican wines a year, we will already be very happy…

More articles about wine here and how to sell them here.

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