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Chinese actress Vicki Zhao Wei aims to make ‘a grand wine’ by AFP28/09/2018  

A Chinese film star got her hands dirty on Tuesday to kick off the harvest at her Bordeaux vineyard, which she aims to propel into the ranks of top estates as demand for French wines grows.


Vicki Zhao Wei bought the Chateau Monlot in the Saint-Emilion region of south-west France in 2011, part of a wave of Chinese buyers snapping up parcels in recent years.

"I want to make Chateau Monlot a grand wine, emblematic of the Bordeaux vineyards," said the 42-year-old as she snipped bunches of grapes outside the 17th-century castle, built on land that once belonged to King Louis XIII.

Her chances of success may be better than most: She has teamed up with Jean-Claude Berrouet, a legendary winemaker.

The Monlot domain produces around 35,000 bottles each year, sold in France but also exported to Canada, China, Japan and Singapore.

"I started drinking red wine after I stopped drinking sake and whisky, because it's better for your heart," Zhao said.

Chinese buyers have purchased around 160 estates in the greater Bordeaux area over the past several years, accounting for about three per cent of the region's vineyard acreage.

Other high-profile enthusiasts include Mr Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba.

In 2016, he bought the Chateau de Sours, a little-known estate that nonetheless boasts an 18th-century castle and produces 500,000 bottles a year. - AFP