“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)
I am a big fan of Create TV, public television’s lifestyle programs. I especially enjoy their travel shows. Recently I viewed several features on France’s most fabled wine region, Bordeaux. Besides its physical beauty (terroir and chateaus) and yields of fine wine, I am fascinated by the history/tradition of its famous vineyards. Generation, after generation of winemakers. Unfortunately, that is all about to change thanks to a recent influx of Chinese capital.
For the record, Bordeaux has endured foreign invasions over the years; beginning with the English (12th and 13th centuries), then the Dutch (17th century) and the Germans during World War II. Now, because of high French inheritance taxes, owners are opting for retirement, thus taking advantage of Chinese liquidity. Currently the Chinese own approximately 3 percent of roughly 6,000 estates, shipping an estimated 80 percent of the wine they produce back to China. How are the French reacting? The money is good, but they are in uproar with the new owners changing the names of the famous vineyards. To make a stronger link to Chinese consumers they are utilizing names of animals – “Golden Rabbits,” “Tibetan Antelopes,” “Grand Antelopes,” etc.
The Bordeaux wine region is morphing. Heraclitus was a smart philosopher, but so was my grandmother who once told me: “Jimmy, nothing is forever.”