Moet Hennessy to make bubbly in China

Limited edition bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne on display.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Over the past few years, China's grown as an important market for luxury goods. Soon the Chinese will have the chance to drink some home-grown 'bubbly' thanks to an investment by an historic French champagne maker.

From Paris, here's the BBC's Hugh Scofield.


HUGH SCOFIELD: Moet et Chandon -- part of the LVMH luxury goods group -- will plant a new vineyard in the northwestern Chinese province of Ningxia. The area was chosen because climatic conditions are similar to those in the Champagne region of France.

Simon Field is champagne buyer for wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd. He says it won't ever be champagne, but it could come close.

SIMON FIELD: The two key features are latitude and of course the soil. You need a chalky, easy draining soil which is virtually unique in champagne which is why it's such a hallowed protected area.

It's not the first time a great French wine name has started production in China. Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild did the same two years ago. The first Chinese bubbly will come on stream in three years. But attention! It will not be sold as champagne. That name belongs exclusibely to the original French variety of sparkling wine.

You see, real champagne is grown only in a small area of northern France around the town of Reims.

In Paris, I'm the BBC's Hugh Schofield for Marketplace.

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