This is not the first trip to China for Plaimont. Jean-Pierre Grangé, ex-manager of the cellar, carried out some observation trips and visits to importers as soon as the end of the 80's to "test the waters" at a time when the coop's exports only represented 2% of turnover (1.4 M bottles in total). "To amortise investments, we had to make our sales grow 15 to 20% a year, an impossible objective in our usual catchment area, explains Jean-Pierre Grangé. We therefore looked further than the Garonne and, as soon as 1994, we had reached 10M bottles, 50% of which exports, but very little outside Europe".
Chinese consumers consume more white wine than red and Plaimont therefore entered a joint venture to ship its Colombelle and its Côtes de Gascogne to China. But the three containers were stopped in harbour in full Summer and, with the cost of transport, a bottle was 220% more expensive. In spite of this first experience, the coop perseveres and takes the time to find the adequate product and the good partner.
Plaimont finally meets the cereal group Wuliangye within the scope of the twinning agreement and signs a partnership agreement on 17,000 hl of bulk wine. New setback: the Chinese group uses the wine to promote a subsidiary selling prune and apple wines. Jean-Pierre Grangé does not throw up his hands and finally traces the adequate partner, Charly Hia, who elucidates the market for him and shows him how to negotiate in China and Taiwan. The partnership becomes an unfailing friendship and results in a new joint venture with Langijatai in 2004, a cereal spirit operator looking to develop his portfolio.
Quintao gascogne, with its musketeer logo registered in China, takes advantage of the commercial salesforce and of the warehouses of the Chinese company. "To start with, 10 salesmen or so were selling wine; today, we have 200 salesmen selling 880,000 bottles a year, mostly red, explains Jean-Pierre Grangé. We are presently studying a development strategy for pacherenc and thinking of an extension outside of the province of Shandong to quickly reach 1M bottles".
This summer, a dozen winegrowers from Gascogne will present their wines in Mongolia, their berets on the head and accompanied by songs from the South West.
Plaimont also implemented an EiG with private cellars to promote the 1907 brand, a brand usually reserved for markets who do not know madiran. "Demonstration is made that the appellation is able to overcome professional divides. We even think of widening the range with pacherenc soon, and why not armagnac ?"