Chinese rom-com brings Bordeaux to big screen

A Chinese film crew has taken over an 18th-century French wine estate to shoot a silver screen sequel to one of the country's most-loved romantic TV series, now set in the vineyards of Bordeaux.

Until now the region was virtually unknown as a Chinese film location.

Yet twelve years after "Cherish Our Love Forever" ended its hit run on Chinese television, the follow-up sees its two lead characters - star-crossed lovers - reunited far from Beijing in the sun-dappled wine hills of southwest France.

"They were looking for something picturesque, classical, old stones, countryside - basically everything that's typically French in their eyes," said David Hurst of Dublin productions.

In the Bordeaux-set melodrama, a tale of dashed dreams and unrequited love, the character played by Chinese actress Xu Jinglei, now a decade older, is trapped in a troubled marriage to a Chinese wine estate owner.

Leading man Li Yapeng plays her one-time lover, while Mandarin pop sensation He Jie co-stars as the mistress of her winegrower husband.

Their two-week shooting schedule took in some of the region's most beautiful scenery - the medieval wine village of Saint Emilion, the dramatic Dune of Pyla, the quiet elegance of historic Bordeaux.

For the rest of the shoot - one third of which took place in France, two thirds in China - they used the vineyards and chateaux of a local wine family, the Gonets, to bring the life of a wealthy Bordeaux winemaker to life.

"Wine estates, castles, life in a chateau seems so far away for us. To see how wine estate owners live - it's beyond what I imagined," said Xu.

Local chateau owners rolled out the red carpet for the stars and director, initiating them to a centuries-old local wine association, or Connetable, before celebrating over a dinner of spit-roasted lamb and wild boar.

"Before Bordeaux was only a name, something I knew had to do with wine. I had no idea that the light, the beaches, the vineyards and the very old towns were so beautiful," said Yibai Zhang, the movie's director.

But just as the series' protagonists have changed in 12 years, so has China, with the country of 1.33 billion becoming the most important export market for Bordeaux wine after Europe.

Fine wines are seen as a byword for romance by urban Chinese consumers, and Bordeaux is synonymous with a sophisticated, upwardly mobile lifestyle.

"When Chinese people think of red wine, they think of Bordeaux," said Yapeng, also a co-producer on the movie.

The project received support from the local film commission while the French Embassy in Beijing helped with visas, in the hope it could spur trade and tourism in a region that currently draws few Chinese visitors.

"I want to show the beauty of the city and wine, and introduce this to China," said Zhang, who is already thinking of new projects he can set against the backdrop of Bordeaux.

Shooting in France, however, has not come without adjustments. Crews in China work seven days a week, are on call 24 hours a day, and eat on the run. French crews work regular hours, rest on Sundays and break an hour for lunch.

"Filming in France is very pleasant. In China we film non-stop," said Jie. "Here it's calmer, we have the time to sit down and have a quiet cup of coffee."

How the 35-person crew, three stars and their entourage, ended up in Bordeaux came down to a mix of chance and business.

The producers initially planned to film in an Australian winery, but like a growing number of Chinese entrepreneurs, they had become involved in the business of importing wine.

On a trip to Bordeaux in search of a chateau to buy, they met the Gonet family, seventh-generation Champagne producers and owners of several estates in Bordeaux, who hosted the shoot in exchange for publicity in China's exploding wine market.

Charles-Henri Gonet's personal home, the Chateau Haut-Bacalan, dates back to the Enlightenment, but will be known in China as the backdrop for a romance that hopes to reach an audience of millions.

Wine product placement has had intoxicating results in the past, with the box-office hit "Sideways" credited with boosting sales of Pinot Noir.

And James Bond, known by generations to prefer martinis and vintage Bollinger Champagne, created a stir amongst spy-loving oenophiles when he uncorked Chateau Angelus in "Casino Royale".

His brother Frederic summed up the wine-meets-film tie-up as a business no brainer: "For China, this is better than being in James Bond".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen