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The Chinese Moon Festival, Bordeaux Wine and . . . Labelling

Chateau Guiraud is to host the Chinese Moon Festival in Bordeaux according to Decanter. The Fete de la Lune d’Or (Golden Moon Festival) is on September 12th and is aimed at the increasingly large Chinese, Hong Kong and Asian community who are working in Bordeaux. Chateau Guiraud is a First Growth Sauternes and has recently opened up two storage cellars for its wines in Asia, one in Hong Kong and one in Shenzen, China. Guiraud is also also one of the largest estates in Sauternes with 100 hectares of organically certified vines.

Gift giving is popular for Chinese festivals and although Chinese New Year sees the biggest increase in sales of Bordeaux wines the Moon Festival also affects sales. Chateau Guiraud’s brand ambassador told Decanter that:

We know the competition is intense, and we want to work as closely as possible with our partners over in China. We realised that more and more of them would be coming over to Bordeaux this year during the harvest, and the Moon Festival coincided exactly with our harvest at Guiraud . . . It seemed a great occasion to celebrate it with them – and we decided to extend it to celebrate with the Chinese and Asian community in Bordeaux.”

Château Guiraud has been owned by four wine enthusiasts since 2006: Robert Peugeot (of Peugeot Citroen automobiles), Xavier Planty (oenologist and Manager of Château Guiraud since 1986), Olivier Bernard (Director of Domaine de Chevalier) and Stephan von Neipperg (owner of Château Canon La Gaffelière and La Mondotte).

The Chinese Moon Festival dates back over 3,000 years, to moon worshipping in the Shang Dynasty. Ancient Chinese emperors worshipped the moon in the autumn, as they believed that the practice would bring them another good harvest year. Nowadays Chinese family members and friends gather under the harvest moon and eat moon cakes together to celebrate the festival. 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit and in Chinese folklore and the Rabbit is often portrayed as the Moon Rabbit. Legend has it that the Moon Rabbit is the companion of the Moon goddess Chang’e and constantly pounds the elixir of life for her in exile on the moon. If you look at the moon you can make out the shape of the rabbit. In fact the Chinese don’t refer to ‘the man in the moon’, they refer to ‘the rabbit in the moon’.

An Australian wine, Katnook Founders Block, has cartoon rabbits on its label in honour of the Year of the Rabbit. The label was designed by Korean painter Huh Young-man, who created “Shikgaek,” a comic book series about Korean food. If you’d like to see more “Rabbit Wines” check out my Blog The Chinese New Year 2011 – The Year of the Yin Metal Rabbit. A quick check on the web for wines aimed at the Moon Festival brought up Paper Moon wine which is made in California but sold in Hong Kong and Singapore, which that is the only brand of this type I can find in Asia so far. They also have a rabbit on the label, rather appropriately . . .

However there are plenty of wines named for the Moon in the USA – a few that caught my eye were Valley of the Moon Winery, California, Prairie Moon Winery, Iowa, Harvest Moon Winery, California, Silver Moon Winery, Illinois, and Coyote Moon Vineyards, New York.

In France there are Château de Lunes,Languedoc and Château Pierre de Lune, Saint Émilion. I couldn’t resist adding Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon from Wines That Rock to my list!

Given the language barrier between Asia and the West (see my Blog Wine: Lost in Translation – Bridging the Gap Between East and West) and the problems that chateaux are having with their names being pronounceable and understandable perhaps the image on a wine label is the best way forward? After all, every picture tells a story.

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