This was published on decanter.com this morning, in a shorter version.

Chateau Guiraud, the 1855 classified Sauternes estate, is to open two storage cellars for its wines in Asia, one in Hong Kong and one in Shenzen, China.

The first, in the industrial city of Shenzen just over the mainland Chinese border from Hong Kong, is due to open in mid-April 2011, with the second one to follow a few months later in June. The intention is to give Chinese wine merchants and distributors access to authenticated, landed stock that can be delivered quickly.

Augustine Lacaille, brand ambassador for Chateau Guiraud, told decanter.com, ‘We realised that as more Chinese consumers become interested in Sauternes, our partners need to have access to stocks of wine for tastings and education. This is key for Sauternes wines, as we need to show how flexible they are, particularly with Chinese cuisine. The two cellars are close together physically, but because of the different tax laws in Hong Kong and China, we needed to have separate stocks in each area.’

Guiraud will not have a full-time representative in China, but will continue to work as usual with Bordeaux négociants and their local Chinese distributors. ‘This is a professional cellar, not in any way an attempt to sell direct.’

Marc Brugalière, a Hong Kong-based representative for Bordeaux negociant The Wine Merchant, said, ‘It seems a positive development, and certainly logistically makes it easier for us to arrange tastings on the ground. If every chateau started doing this, it might get complicated, but overall it should be positive for Sauternes to have someone proactively promoting the region.’

To date, one container of half bottles (in 12 packs) and full bottles (in six packs) has gone to Shenzen, and the same again to Hong Kong.

Latest figures from the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB) recorded that sales of Sauternes wines to Hong Kong and China rose by 50% over 2010. In 2009 sweet wines accounted for 0.2% of all Bordeaux wines imported into Hong Kong, and for 0.3% of all Bordeaux wines imported into China.