ASC Wine Residence, Shanghai (China)30. November 2013
The Middle Huaihai Road was created in 1900 in the French Quarter and not only has a checkered history, but today is a vibrant and exclusive shopping and entertainment center of Shanghai. Western and Eastern visitors as well as many Chinese come to prosperity stroll to the luxury shops, dine in one of many fine restaurants and then go into a trendy bar. The core zone of this hustle and bustle is easy 2 km long. In a small side street just two buildings behind the Huaihai Road is the Wine Residence of wine importer ASC - a better location, there can be little. The magnificent building looks especially beautiful at night by its elaborate lighting, a small garded parking area offers the exclusive club members of the Wine Residence a comfortable and stylish access. Inside guests are offered a wine temple as it is not often found in the world. The land of opportunity is now obviously - China. And this is especially true for the world of fine wines.
In the cellar area there is a spectacular tasting room which was fully isolated by walls of glas to allow the interior pleasantly warm temperatures.
The company ASC was founded in 1996 by Don St. Pierre Sr. and his son and has rapidly become the leading wine trading company in China. From the beginning, ASC focused on top wines and was able to develop an exquisite portfolio of wineries as importer. The group employs today approximately 1,200 people in the wine trade, operates eight large storage centers and maintains an extensive distribution network in China, Hong Kong and Macau. The portfolio as an importer includes over 100 wineries with more than 1,200 wines from 14 countries. As a rule, ASC includes the manufacturers of the most renowned and best wines in their region. Among the stars of the portfolio include DBR (Lafite), Treasury Wine Estates (including Penfolds , Beringer), Constellation (including Opus One), Distell (South Africa) and Gaja, Guigal and Louis Jadot. ASC also works closely together and buys directly from Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau Latour, Chateau Cos d`Estournel, Chateau Beychevelle and Chateau Lynch-Bages. This phenomenal offer is marketed directly or indirectly through different distribution channels. Since 2001 there is a close cooperation with the glass manufacturer Riedel, ASC importes exclusively Riedel stemware into China. A great deal of attention was put more and more on the promotion of an exclusive wine culture in China, a truly heroic endeavor in a country where wine is drunk more like beer in Germany.
The 260 "Wine lockers" along the walls can hold up to 90 bottles.
While in the first years after the founding wines almost exclusively were consumed in the (now very numerous ) 5-star hotels, today the "direct-to-customer" channel is becoming increasingly important. To enable the end-user a better access to the products sold by ASC wines, in 2007 in Shanghai a first "Wine Residence" was opened. Today in the cities of Beijing and Hong Kong there are other offshoots and in spring 2013, the Wine Residence in Shanghai was able to move into a new, very representative house. The concept and implementation of the Wine Residence under one roof is unique in the world. ASC calls this "Learn Wine" (wine school) , "Select Wine" (wine shop) , "Collect & Store Wine" (wine cellar service), "Events & Networking" (exclusive wine club), "Customized Wine Experience" (organization of private events) and "Beyond wine" (wine lounge in the style of an English club). Each element is mapped in the building on one floor.
The focus on the ground floor is on the wine shop, which is always open to the public. All other facilities and floors are for club members only. The membership is split into a "Social Membership" from a purchasing volume of about € 10,000 per year on and a full membership from purchases of around 20,000 € per year. The memberships offer some privileges. Particularly attractive is the ability to store own wine in the Wine Residence Cellar at optimum conditions, but this is reserved for full members only. The storage facility offers some 260 lockers of 90 bottles each and in addition 13 small wine cellar rooms with private access for larger collections. By the end of 2013, the Wine Residence Shanghai lists about 100 full members and every effort is made to make this number rise very slowly.
The ballroom ready for the next super tasting.
The bottles are stored in the cellar in optimal condition cooled down to 12 °C. Much more pleasant but also not too high in temperature is the ground floor, which contains a huge and phenomenally stocked wine shop. Sorted by country ASC presents its prestige wines, Germany is among others represented by J. J. Prüm. In the middle of the room there is a separated roundel with the top wines: Premier Crus from Bordeaux, Ornellaia, Opus One up to 6l bottles and top Burgundy. To become the motto "Select Wine" justice, there are four round custom-made Enomatic wine dispensers in the shop. With a smart card samples of wine can be poured in a glass for tasting. Each roundel contains 16 bottles of wine, a total of 64 open bottles offered to the guests. You can relax in small groups of seats and take some time to decide which wine you like best.
The Caudalie bar with the display of Kufsteiner Riedel glass. The decanter and glasses of the Sommelier series are obviously well in demand in China.
The Riedel wine glasses and decanters are presented on the ground floor in an adjoining room with the name "Caudalie Bar". The brand name refers to a Caudalie cosmetics series, based on the wine therapy which has been developed at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Every month glass tastings are offered where the same wine can be tasted from different glass types. Anyone who has been through such a tasting will be very surprised at the enormous influence the glass has on the taste of wine. In this room there is also a well-stocked wine library with international wine magazines and a selection of wine accessories. Wine experts at the bar are available to customers in all matters relating to wine for friendly, professional service. The elongated, all-white room is often used as a venue and leads through patio doors onto a spacious terrace - right in the center of Shanghai!
The "Grapevine Sommelier Table" on the sky floor is perfectly suited for guests to try the interplay of the flavors of food and wine.
The upper floors contain event and tasting rooms. Located in the 2nd floor is the multifunctional "Symposia Room" that can accommodate up to 180 guests and is equipped with the latest technology. Right next door adds a small room with a wine school for a maximum of 18 persons. Another floor up is the centrally located kitchen which supplies the various restoration rooms. The rooms can be divided flexibly, as it is customary in China to dine in a private room. Three of the rooms are decorated in Western style, the others decorated Chinese. The kitchen dominates both cooking styles perfectly. If you follow the steps again further up, you get into the "Sky Floor". Here you can relax after a long tasting evening in a lounge in Shanghai style of the 30s, listen to music or smoke a cigar. And of course there is wine to be served.
The Wine Residence, a place of pilgrimage for the Western wine industry - many signed bottles witness the visit. .
The entire house has been renovated with exceptional effort and equipped with the latest technology, each room has been optimized functionally to a specific wine theme. China is already one of the largest wine markets in the world, the knowledge about the wine culture but not yet widespread. Being the largest wine merchant in the country it is clear that ASC has to start here in order to generate further growth. The fact that in China up to 48% import taxes are levied on wines is not necessarily a problem due to the existing purchasing power. Counterfeit wines are a real threat , even gray imports from Hong Kong, which evade the duty. ASC`s answer is, however, a transparent and clear concept. All the wines from this house are guaranteed to be genuine and - including the import tax - fairly priced. As a European, it is surprising to see so many bottles very hard to get. Romanée Conti in magnums - no problem, of course ASC will be supplied. Pétrus in OWC, Comte de Vogue from the 2010 vintage, either. As a consequence in Europe these wines are no longer readily available, too big is the lure of high prices in China. All the important people from the wine industry here give the jack in the hand. If they are not present here, there is no business. There is no question that most markets are shifting to Asia, precisely also the Fine Wine market. And the way ASC seizes this opportunity is just to admire. Such a "wine - temple" would simply not be worth retaining in Europe.
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