Pierre, through Vatel, you recently had an opportunity to visit the Tunxi district of China. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
It all began in June when Mr. Julien Liscouët, Director of International Affairs at Vatel, launched a "call for tenders" for a lecturer from Vatel willing to lecture on wine management at the university in the east of China. Mr. Glorieux suggested it to me and, of course, I agreed. The university works in a totally different way there. For a start, the Bachelor’s degree takes four years instead of the usual three.
In their first year, students learn the basics of the hotel industry and find out about the Vatel curriculum so I described Vatel and the hotel sector, as well as giving them a snapshot of the world’s leading hotel groups, with the emergence of Chinese hotel chains.
Second year students are divided into two classes and the lectures were more concentrated (18 hours in 3 days). With them, I looked at the following topics:
- History and culture of wine
- Basic winegrowing
- Winemaking techniques
- Basics of wine tasting
- Overview of the global wine market and the well-established role of China
- Serving wine
- Cellar management and storage conditions for wine
Their course is based on a fortnightly rotation of theory and practical experience. In fact, I visited the 5-star hotel where all the students undertake practical work supervised by a former student from Vatel Nîmes!
What did you think of what you saw? Are there any specific comments you would like to make?
For me, it was a very rewarding experience in professional terms and on a personal level. The teaching is very different over there. The students deserve to do well. Most of them live very simply, with very limited means. I was very pleasantly surprised by the speed with which they learnt things in an area they know absolutely nothing about.
After the three days of lectures, both groups sat an exam to check on what they had learnt. I was delighted to see that most of them had fully assimilated the information given to them.
I believe that the experience would be even more rewarding if Vatel Huangshan gave its students oenology lectures on a more regular basis in the future, to extend their knowledge and skills. Wine is becoming more and more important in China and it seems to me that a real Wine course would be a significant advantage for the university. But it’s a case of “wait and see”.
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