Footnotes - China special

A newsletter from the team at Nardone Baker Wines                China Edition 010  September 2007

AUSTRALIAN SOIL ... European Heritage


Frank Nardone moonstruck by Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival 

Mooncakes and their packagingChinese people around the world will be feasting on mooncakes come September 25, when China celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Actually, says Nardone Baker Wines Managing DIrector, Frank Nardone, who has just returned from an extensive sales tour of China, the Chinese are already feasting on mooncakes.

"It is like the lead up to Easter in China at the moment," remarks Frank. "Just like we see brightly decorated Easter eggs in supermarkets and specialty stores for many weeks leading up to Easter, Chinese supermarkets, stores and restaurants, are full to the brim with mooncake displays.

The Mid-Autumn Festival began 3,000 years ago and is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This day marks the Autumn equinox, coinciding with the moon being at its fullest and brightest, making it an ideal time for a festival to celebrate the end of the Summer harvest. Families typically gather and eat mooncakes and light bright lanterns. 

Mooncakes can be sweet, salty, savoury, sour, or combinations thereof, in keeping with the complexity and depth of the Chinese palate. Popular fillings include salty egg, lotus seeds and pork.

Frank believes Nardone Baker Wines will benefit from his first hand experience of the Mid-Autumn Festival atmosphere, because it has impressed upon him some of the seriousness and rigour with which many Chinese approach celebration.

"The decoration and presentation of mooncakes takes marketing to new levels," he says. "Westerners would be amazed at the lavishness and detail that Chinese producers apply to their mooncakes. Although you can buy basic mooncakes for snacking, most are beautifully wrapped and crafted.

"I saw some mooncakes that were presented in a large, satin-lined case, with each mooncake individually packed in gold, embossed metal box. The case even came with a matching carry bag.

"I learned a lot about Chinese expectations about packaging and presentation and we will be building on these insights as we expand our growing operations into China."

Frank Nardone plays Cupid in China with SA wine

Frank Nardone happened to be in China on the 7th day of the 7th Lunar month, otherwise known as Qi Xi or Lovers' Day. It fell on August 19 this year. The basic story behind this day, which is the Chinese equivalent to Valentine's Day, combines love with sadness. 

A common version of the Qi Xi story has the daughter of the Emperor of Heaven falling in love with an orphan cowherd during a visit to the human world. They marry and have two children. But two years later, the Emperor separates them and sends his daughter to the star, Vega, and the cowherd to the star, Altair. These stars are high and bright in the night sky during this time of year, seemingly separated by the Milky Way. According to legend, magpies take pity on them once and year and form a bridge allowing the couple to reunite briefly.

It also follows that the brief encounter yields many tears of joy and sadness, witnessed by rain on Lovers' Day every year. Frank Nardone was told about this during his recent visit and despite a week of dry, hot weather, sure enough, in the afternoon of August 19, the heavens opened and there was an almighty downpour.

While visiting a Wine Shop on Lover's Day, Frank overheard a young Chinese couple discussing what wine to buy for their special dinner. He kept hearing the word "Australia" mentioned, so he offered his help to guide them to a safe selection. They had not heard of Shiraz but were familiar with Cabernet Sauvignon, so Frank set them up for an enjoyable night by recommending a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. Next year, the store will be sure to have the Nardone Baker range to make the selection process even easier! 

Nardone Baker 'sold out' in China
Frank Nardone in ChinaThis is a first for our company, and we hope it is not the last time it happens.
Just as Frank Nardone arrived in Shanghai to visit our sales partners and retailers, Chinese wine lovers discovered our wines and completely bought out supplies of Nardone Baker red wine varieties.
"It's one of those quirks of retailing, where consumers discover a new product and demand outstrips supply," muses Frank Nardone.
"It was a mixed blessing because I was hoping to observe Chinese consumers interacting with our red wines in the chain of fine gourmet stores that has chosen our wines for their Select Wine Section.
"However, it is always rewarding when your export partners witness the demand that our wine range can inspire when retailers grasp the importance of a brand and nurture it for the mutual benefit of consumer, retailer and producer.
"I have also noticed a similar situation developing in Shenzhen, where we have partnered with a smaller group of Fine Wine Stores."
Frank dismisses conventional wisdom which says Chinese consumers prefer sweeter, simple wines that they often mix with soft drinks or green tea.
"I made a special point of immersing myself into authentic, Chinese cuisine during my visit, often eating at small establishments in the company of my Chinese business partners.
"What struck me the most, was the comprehensive range of flavour combinations that make up Chinese cuisine.
"Where Western foods tend to be aptly described as salty, sweet, sour, spicy, etc, Chinese foods - authentic Chinese foods - are more complex, often they are combinations of sweet and salty, spicy and sour, etc.  
"As more Chinese consumers discover our Australian wine styles, I am confident that they will embrace the subtle complexities of our wine in a way that far exceeds the conditioning of our Western palates.
"It is going to be an exciting time in this industry and Nardone Baker will be at the forefront, to accommodate and please the Chinese palate."  

Read full story in the News section of our website

Nardone Baker's Asian invasion

Nardone Baker wines in ChinaThe Nardone Baker wine you enjoy is poised to gain greater exposure throughout Asia, as we prepare to meet the challenges of deepening our understanding of the complex and diverse Asian marketplace.
"We believe we are in a good position to tackle the Asian marketplace, building on the firm foundation we have laid with our excellent partners in Hong Kong and Singapore during our first decade of operations," says Frank Nardone, Managing Director, Nardone Baker Wines.
"The success and growth we are experiencing in those markets have placed us in a unique position to make a big effort in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
"Our traditional business model of building loyal, solid relationships with our partners as we roll our sleeves up and work hard together, should bear fruit for our Asian partners and the South Australian wine industry.
"We are a young, flexible company and we are ready to commit ourselves to the prosperity of new customers throughout Asia."

Read full story in the News section of our website

  Contact us
Nardone Baker Wines
Australian Head Office
Ph: +618 8445 8100
Fx: +618 8445 8200

PO Box 386
McLaren Vale SA 5171

10 Gray Street
Kilkenny SA 5009

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