Chinese Wine Taking Wing

If you're in a major airport looking for an unusual last-second gift, you might think about a bottle of Dragon Seal wine.

Dragon Seal? Not exactly a household wine brand in the U.S., but the made-in-China wine is about to become available for the first time ever in some duty-free airport stores. Camus, the cognac distributor that also is the world's leading operator of tax-free shops, signed a 10-year contract with Dragon Seal to sell its wines in 50 of its duty-free outlets globally within six months.

The French company already has deals with top Chinese liquor companies Moutai, Gu Yue Long Shan and Chunghwa Cognac, a liquor jointly developed by Camus and a leading Chinese cigarette company. These liquors are already on Camus' store shelves. Among other wines, Camus will handle Dragon Seal's signature Osmanthus King wine.

Camus President Cyril Camus has had a long interest in China. His wife, Isabelle, is from China and he is fluent in Chinese. He told the China Daily that he likes Dragon Seal's use of only grapes grown in China.

"The company follows the French concept of one terroir, which is important to guarantee the consistent quality of wine," he said.

Terroir is a certain region belonging to a specific vineyard and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions and winemaking savoir-faire.

By 2010, Dragon Seal hopes to export 18 per cent of its output annually. Its current foreign customer base now is in France, Germany and Belgium, but it is targeting Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Norway this year.

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