Mosaic of China Season 03 Episode 19 – The Wine Devotee (Bertrand CRISTAU, XiaoLing Estate)

Oscar Fuchs
Welcome to Mosaic of China, a podcast about people who are making their mark in China. I’m your host, Oscar Fuchs.
Oscar Fuchs

Bertrand Cristau explains how he first discovered the Northwestern tip of 云南 [Yúnnán] Province, and how he ended up working together with Tibetan villagers to make prize-wining Himalayan wine.

Original Date of Release: April 25, 2023.

Mosaic of China Season 03 Episode 19 – The Wine Devotee (Bertrand CRISTAU, XiaoLing Estate)


OF: This is because you already had a background in winemaking before?

BC: I didn't have any background in winemaking.


OF: Welcome to Mosaic of China, a podcast about people who are making their mark in China. I’m your host, Oscar Fuchs.

You probably know by now that this podcast is called ‘Mosaic of China’ because each guest in a season represents a tile that is connected by introduction from a guest tile in a previous season. That’s how this Mosaic is being built out: one introduction, one connection, one episode at a time. What this also means is that not only do I have little control over which person will be introduced to me by a previous guest, I also don’t know where in China they’re going to be located.

Today’s episode with Bertrand Cristau took me to perhaps the most surprising location that I’ve ever visited in China, to the extent that the place truly masquerades as an extra guest in the show. For this reason, let me remind you before we start that you can see the photos that accompany the interview online, just search for @mosaicofchina or @oscology on social media. Or head to, where you can also follow the transcript for today’s show, if English isn’t your first language. Finally, there’s a video version of the show on YouTube where you can hear the interview, see the visuals, and also follow the captions to the show all at the same time.

With that in mind, let’s start the show.

[Part 1]

OF: I am here with Bertrand Cristau. And I wonder how I would describe you. How do you describe yourself?

BC: I've been working in China nearly all my life. In fact I have two companies. The first one is in assisting French companies to do business with China. The second company makes wine in the Tibetan region of 云南 [Yúnnán], near to Tibet. And that's where we are today.

OF: Exactly. And maybe people listening can already notice the sound quality is a bit different to the usual episodes, because I have come to 云南 [Yúnnán], to the village where you have your vineyard and your winemaking operations. And we are sitting in a lovely hotel that you have helped to book for me. And we have set up this studio with a table and my suitcase on top.

BC: Yeah.

OF: What object did you bring that in some way represents your life here in China?

BC: So I made it quite simple, I brought a bottle of wine, our new white wine. We just started in 2018 to make white wine, and this is our first vintage. So even the label is still not the official label.

OF: Excellent. Can you please explain whereabouts in 云南 [Yúnnán] we are.

BC: We are maybe 60 kilometres from Tibet. We are also, I think, 50 kilometres from Myanmar. So really into the northwest corner of 云南 [Yúnnán]. Dêqên [བདེ་ཆེན་རྫོང་] is a three hour drive from 香格里拉 [Shangri-La] already, and here we are another one hour drive from Dêqên [བདེ་ཆེན་རྫོང་], down the Upper Mekong Basin, to this small village of 茨中 [Cízhōng] known for its church. French missionaries arrived here 150 years ago, planning to evangelise Tibet. But every time they went to Tibet they were pushed back, either by the Chinese or the Tibetans. So they set up here on the opposite side of the Mekong River so that it was easier, and they could develop. When they built the church in 茨中 [Cízhōng], they started the vineyard. This is probably the oldest vineyard in China now.

OF: Interesting. So why was the vineyard so closely connected with the Christians who came?

BC: Because during the mass we need wine, which represents the blood of Christ. At that time, they were importing the wine from France. But it took a very long time, it was very expensive. So they decided to make their own wine. And we have one plot now - next to the church in 茨中 [Cízhōng] - which have grapes coming from France, which very interestingly in fact no longer exist in France. Because we had the phylloxera in France, and the old varieties all died in France. So this is probably the only place in the world where we can still find these grapes.

OF: What’s the variety called?

BC: They call it ‘rose honey’, which is only a local name. And in fact, I believe that they took this name from other places in China, which probably referred to other varieties brought by the French missionaries.

OF: Right. In this really remote area, we have this little corner of French culture.

BC: Yes, exactly. When I first arrived here - that was in 2012 - we started to walk three hours, we stopped in a small house in the mountains where some farmers were taking care of their cows, and suddenly we caught a smell which was a typical French smell. And they were preparing a beef soup, exactly as we do in France.

OF: Wow.

BC: So maybe the missionaries taught them how to prepare this beef soup. Also, we still have one person remaining who learned French with the missionaries. He is 94-95 years old now. He can still speak some French, he can also sing French songs. Another funny thing is that the local people are mostly Catholics. Some have Chinese names, but most have Christian names. So we can see a lot of people with the names José or Joseph, Agatha, Maria, Anna, Helena…

OF: Yeah. What percentage of the people in this village are still Catholic?

BC: 茨中 [Cízhōng], has around 2,000 people, and they have roughly 60% Catholics and 40% Buddhists. When we say ‘Catholics’, some are going to the mass regularly, some are not going and are only Catholics by tradition. In 茨古 [Cígǔ] - the place where we have our cellar - it is maybe 97% Catholics.

OF: Hmm.

BC: It is quite unique to have Tibetan Catholics, because usually Tibetans are all Buddhist.

OF: Wow, there are Tibetan Catholics in the world.

BC: Yeah, exactly.

OF: Are you also Catholic then?

BC: I am, also. And that is one reason why I came here. In fact, I was reading a lot of books about missionaries in China. And one of these books was written by Father Dubernard, who was a father here. I thought this book was very interesting, and it was a very special place in China.

OF: Yeah.

BC: Some people had houses, but some were still living in caves. So that was a very wild place. So I wanted to visit, but I couldn't find the place. Because all the names of the places they mentioned were all in Tibetan, and on the maps you only have the Chinese names.

OF: Right.

BC: You don't have the Tibetan names. So I gave up. But in 2012, I received an email from somebody I didn’t know, who told me “There’s a project that needs your help in a small Tibetan village in 云南 [Yúnnán]”. Immediately I thought “That is the place I'm looking for!” So I immediately answered him “OK, thank you, I will go to visit and to check out this project.” And so during the summer, I came here with my daughter, and I really loved the place. So from that time onwards, I came here every year. And in 2014, a French guy - who was here before I arrived - set up the wine project. He proposed that I participated in the project, so I invested a little. And I took over in 2017.

OF: This is because you already had a background in winemaking before?

BC: I didn't have any background in winemaking. I am from Burgundy…


BC: And my grandfather had a small vineyard. So when I was young, I spent every summer at his place, playing in the vineyard. Sometimes he asked me to help to clean the bottles, to bottle the wine. So I had some experience. But I never thought at that time that one day I will end up making wine.

OF: What actually is your background?

BC: I am an engineer.

OF: OK. I can see it now, so you had at least the childhood stories of being in vineyards, you have the China connection, and you have the scientific mind. It's like this was meant to be, Bertrand.

BC: Yeah.

OF: Well you know what, you said ‘engineer’: that made me remember the person who referred me to you from last season…

BC: Oh, Vladimir.

OF: …Which was Vladimir, exactly. Let me play you this:

[Start of Audio Clip]

Vladimir DJUROVIC: Bertrand Cristau. He arrived in China twenty years before me. Most interestingly, he has recently opened a vineyard.

OF: Ah.

VD: And I'm really looking forward to hear Bertrand next year.

[End of Audio Clip]

BC: We are from the same school in France.

OF: Ah.

BC: We have an Alumni Association. So I knew him through the Alumni Association. He was one of the first from the school to set up in Shanghai, I was the first to set up in Beijing.

OH: Aha.

BC: So afterwards when I came to Shanghai, naturally I met him. And we started to develop the Alumni Association together.

OF: Got it. OK, so you were in Beijing. So what is your background in China? Can you give me the short version?

BC: OK, during my engineering studies in France, I started to learn Chinese. Everybody in the family was always saying that I was very similar to my father, which upset me a lot. So that is very different from what my father did. So I thought “That’s a new opportunity to discover new things.” And my father went to many countries in the world, but never came to China.


BC: So that was something I could do that he hadn’t done before.

OF: This whole thing is just a competition against your father, isn’t it?

BC: Yes, at the start it was in fact. So I arrived in Beijing the first time in 1980, only for six weeks studying in the university. And I loved it too much, so I decided that I had to come back. First I took a one-year holiday, I went to Africa to take some time off, because when we study, we don't have a lot of time off. And after this year in Africa, I came here, first as a student in 1982 - that’s where I met my wife also, who is a Pekinese - and I started to work in 1983, in a small company, which I bought later. And now I am the only owner of the company.

OF: Wow. And so then you moved to Shanghai. That was much later, was it?

BC: Yes, my two children were born in Beijing. In 1987, just after my son was born, we went to France. I was still working in the same company, but I was in the head office. Before we married, my wife had never been out of Beijing. So we went back to France for three years; then I moved to Hong Kong for one year; from Hong Kong I moved back to Beijing, I stayed there six years; then back to France again, 8 years in France; then I moved to Shanghai.

OF: Right. Well, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and France, right?

BC: Yes.

OF: That’s how you’ve shuttled in the last 20-30 years, right?

BC: Yes.

OF: And your children, obviously they're half French/half Chinese.

BC: Yes.

OF: Well let's pivot back to the wine, because I'm still looking at your object here, which is the bottle of your new white wine, right?

BC: Exactly.

OF: What goes into making this wine, here in this village?

BC: Our brand is ‘霄嶺 [Xiāolǐng]’, which means ‘clouds in the mountains’. At the start, we were buying the grapes from the farmers. But to make good wine, you need a low yield.

OF: Really? I did not know that. OK.

BC: Yes. We call it ‘green harvest’. But the farmers want to maximise the yield. So after two years, we decided that it was better to take care of the vineyard from the start. So we changed to renting the vineyard. But we rent the vineyard with the manpower. The farmers work by themselves on their own vineyard.

OF: Right.

BC: And they learn very fast. They understood it very quickly, and they know how to do it. So we have around 25 families working for us. All are very small plots, maybe 1.6亩 [Mǔ] per plot, which is 1/10 of a hectare.

OF: Mmm. And it's not in a contiguous area, these are plots which are spread around the village, right?

BC: Not only spread around the village, spread around many villages. We are in a region which is very particular and very unique in the whole world, I think. We are at a latitude where you cannot usually grow vines. But as we are at a high altitude - we are around 2,000 metres - we have weather which is quite similar to France’s weather.

OF: Right, because we're higher but also more southern.

BC: Exactly.

OF: Right.

BC: So we have the same quantity of rain in one year, but not at the same time. Except that, it's very similar. So in fact we grow the French varieties, and it is very successful. All the villages are completely different microclimates: some are facing south, some west, east, north; the soil is different; some are very steep, some are less; some are higher, lower. If you have one degree difference, you will have a different wine. It will not be ripe at the right time.

OF: But you do have all these differences, you have these different plots.

BC: Yes.

OF: So do you blend them together to make your wine? Or do you have separate distinct wines, which represent different plots?

BC: We blend it. That is Bordeaux style, in fact. But as we have quite strong Burgundy roots, we want to develop the Burgundy style: Single vineyard wines - one for each different village - so that we can show the differences between the villages.

OF: So each village then can have ownership of what they create, and they can have their own pride in their village and what the village makes. Which I guess is a great legacy from all those years ago.

BC: That’s what we expect to have, yes. I would really like to develop this region like Burgundy. This is the only place in China where we have seen this idea, and probably the only place in China where it can be done. Because for example in 宁夏 [Níngxià], which is the biggest wine-producing region, they have hundreds of hectares of similar land.

OF: Let's move on to the actual drinkers of the wines. We've talked about the creation of the wine, how popular is wine amongst the Chinese themselves?

BC: When I arrived in China in the 80s, we nearly only had white alcohol during all the dinners.

OF: 白酒 [Báijiǔ], yeah.

BC: And the government pushed a lot for developing wine, which is better for the health. At the start, it was very few. We had Dynasty, and Great Wall.

OF: Great Wall, Great Wall.

BC: Those were the two best known ones. And finally, it has been developed more. But the Chinese government always thinks, when they want to develop an industry, they think big. So the smallest winery should be at least 100 hectares, or even 500 hectares. That's not what we have in France, that’s not what we want to do here.

OF: Mmm.

BC: But wine has become more and more popular. More and more, when we have banquets, we have wine instead of 白酒 [báijiǔ].

OF: Right.

BC: The market is now quite big. As a producer, China is now the second largest producer of grapes in the world. For wine, but also for food. For wine drinking, I think now China is fourth or fifth largest in the world, as a country.

OF: Mmm.

BC: Which compared to the population is still very low. So a lot of people think that it's a great business for the future, because Chinese people will probably drink more wine, and this may increase a lot. The consumption, let's say.

OF: Exactly. I guess the issue is, you are going to always have a problem competing with 宁夏 [Níngxià] where they do have scale. Here, you’ll never have scale. But that's the idea, right?

BC: But I don't see them as competition. They make wine starting from 100 [元 Yuán]. Very few reach 600 or 700 [元 Yuán]. That is our level.


BC: So that's not the same wine quality, not the same wine. So people who know better wine, they will come to us. And we're fully competitive - quality speaking - with the best 宁夏 [Níngxià] wines.

OF: Hmm. If I was a wine expert, I would have already asked you about all the different variants, and how you pick them, and what weather, and what temperature. I'm glad at least that I know the cultural background of what you've done here. And it's certainly been fascinating for me to see it with my own eyes. So thank you so much Bertrand.

BC: You're welcome.

OF: We will move on to Part 2.

BC: Ah, OK.

[Part 2]

OF: OK, we are now at the part where I ask the 10 questions. So question number 1, brought to you by Shanghai Daily: What is your favourite China-related fact?

BC: I will say: do you know where in China you can find a bullfight?

OF: Bullfighting?

BC: Bullfighting, yeah.

OF: I'm going to guess it's around here.

BC: Exactly.

OF: Really, tell me about that.

BC: We have it in Dêqên [བདེ་ཆེན་རྫོང་], in autumn and during the winter when there is nothing much to do. They will organise, between the farmers, fights between their bulls.

OF: Wow.

BC: And in fact, they will raise special bulls for fighting. So that's yak bulls. Recently one winning bull was sold for 300,000 元 [Yuán].

OF: Amazing. Question number 2, which is brought by Rosetta Stone: Do you have a favourite word or phrase in Chinese?

BC: Before - when I was in China at the start - my favourite one was 没有 [méiyǒu].

OF: 没有 [Méiyǒu].

BC: 没有 [Méiyǒu] is ‘There is none’.

OF: ‘No. We haven't got it.’ Right?

BC: We haven't got it. At that time, a lot of things were missing. When you went to the restaurant, you order from the menu: “没有 [Méiyǒu]”. You want to buy an air ticket: “没有 [Méiyǒu]”. So that was the most common, and probably the first phrase every foreigner knew in China. Another one is 马马虎虎 [mǎmǎhǔhǔ]: ‘horse horse tiger tiger'. It’s… how do you say it in English… it’s ‘roughly like that’, or..?

OF: Yeah. It’s estimating, right? It's ‘just about.’ I like both of those. And in fact, those answers connect you to previous episodes of the show.

BC: Ah, OK.

OF: Because 没有 [méiyǒu] was also chosen by Emily Madge in Season 01. She was working at the Shanghai aquarium, and she had to export two beluga whales from Shanghai to Iceland.

BC: Oh.

OF: And she had to deal with the red tape. And many questions that she asked the officials, she got the answer “没有 [Méiyǒu]”. And the second one, 马马虎虎 [mǎmǎhǔhǔ], that was chosen in Season 02 by the curator, Zhang Yuan. He's the only Chinese person that I've heard use that phrase. Whenever I hear 马马虎虎 [mǎmǎhǔhǔ] it's usually a foreigner, because it's a favourite among foreigners. So I'm glad that there is a non-Chinese person who has chosen it, because I think it's a very popular phrase among non-Chinese.

BC: Uh-huh.

OF: Question 3, what is your favourite destination within China?

BC: Now it's certainly here. When I say ‘here’ it’s the Mekong Valley, but even more so the Salween Valley. I am now planning to retire here. Retirement means probably not full-time here, I will certainly go back to France sometimes. But I would like to have my base here. Before I came to this region, the place I preferred in China was 桂林 [Guìlín].

OF: Do you mean like 阳朔 [Yángshuò].

BC: Yes, yes. When I say 桂林 [Guìlín] it’s not the city of 桂林 [Guìlín], I have no interest in that. But not only 阳朔 [Yángshuò]. 阳朔 [Yángshuò], yes, is a very small village, and nice landscape. People are nice, also. North of 桂林 [Guìlín] there’s another place, its name is 平安 [Píng’ān], where they have a lot of rice paddies, which is also very very nice.

OF: I hope people don't go there because it sounds like it's still a little bit of a secret.

BC: I think…

OF: It's already popular.

BC: It has become more popular now, yes.

OF: Thank you. Next question, if you left China, what would you miss the most and what would you miss the least?

BC: What I would miss the most is probably Chinese food. Peking roast duck.

OF: Of course. 北京烤鸭 [Běijīng kǎoyā].

BC: Yeah, 北京烤鸭 [Běijīng kǎoyā], yeah.

OF: I actually haven't had that in years.

BC: Ah.

OF: Do you know a good place you have it in Shanghai as well?

BC: Yes, yes, yes. The best place to have 烤鸭 [kǎoyā] in Shanghai is 大董 [Dàdǒng]. Another one is 鸭王 [Yāwáng] which is also not bad.

OF: And what about the thing you would miss the least?

BC: When we make jokes, the Chinese very often don’t understand.

OF: Oh yes.

BC: That’s also one thing that I like here in the northwest corner of 云南 [Yúnnán]. Here, the people joke like Europeans.

OF: Really?

BC: Yeah. I don't know if it's Tibetan. I see that very often they upset Chinese 汉 [Hàn] people because the 汉 [Hàn] do not understand how they joke. But for us it’s very natural, in fact.

OF: Isn’t that funny? Yes, my jokes go nowhere with most Chinese people.

BC: yeah, yeah.

OF: So maybe I should be moving here as well.

BC: Sure.

OF: That’s great, thank you. Next question, which is brought to us by SmartShanghai: Where is your favourite place to go out, to eat or drink or hang out?

BC: I do not have a favourite place. When I go to a restaurant, I will always order the dishes I don't know. My wife will always order the dishes she knows the best.

OF: Yes.

BC: To avoid any risk. So I don't have a place I will often go regularly, no. I always want to try new things.

OF: The next question, what is the best or worst purchase you have made in China?

BC: I will tell you the best one, which is a small stick - like a small spoon - to clean the ears. I never saw that in France before. But in fact, I find it very useful.

OF: Yes, it has the scraper, right?

BC: Yes, it’s a kind of scraper.

OF: Yes. That is a funny one. I first saw it in Japan.

BC: Oh yeah?

OF: One side was the cotton bud, and the other side was the spoon. Because they do say that putting the bud in your ear is bad for the eardrum, because you can very easily go too far.

BC: Yes. Exactly. So this one, you can really scratch out…

OF: It sounds gross, but it is clever guys. What is your favourite WeChat sticker?

BC: So I am influenced by the region where we are now. It is a guy who welcomes guests with a white… How do you say?

OF: I guess it's a scarf.

BC: Scarf, yeah white scarf. Yes, I forgot the name. That is a tradition in Tibet. When you receive a guest, you will give him a white scarf. Written beside it, '扎西德勒 [བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས - tashi delek]’, which is what a Tibetan would say to welcome people.

OF: OK. And when do you send this sticker?

BC: When I want to say “Hi” to somebody, or “Thank you”. It has a lot of meanings in fact.

OF: Ah. So it's a bit like שָׁלוֹם [shalom] in Hebrew, or…

BC: Yes, exactly.

OF: … Aloha in Hawaiʻi. That's useful. And how do you say it again?

BC: བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས [Tashi delek]

OF: I can see it. But it's written in the Chinese 汉字 [hànzì].

BC: Yes, yes, yes, it’s in Chinese.

OF: Right, thank you. Next question, what is your go-to song to sing at KTV?

BC: I never sing at KTV.

OF: You've never been once?

BC: I've been some times, but I’ve never sung.

OF: You’ve never sung.

BC: No, because my songs are not right. And my wife now forbade me to sing. So I have a good excuse.

OF: You must have sung in front of her. When did you sing?

BC: Ah, at church.

OF: Ah.

BC: Mostly at church, yeah. And she laughs when she hears me singing.

OF: That's great. And so you still go to church every week?

BC: Roughly, when I can. I cannot really go every week, but in Shanghai we have a mass in French. When I'm here I go to the mass here, which is partly in Tibetan and partly in Chinese.

OF: Wow. And are there any similar songs?

BC: No, they are different.

OF: But they sing, or they chant as well?

BC: Oh, they sing a lot. They always sing. Tibetan people love to sing. Very often they will sing at home. They have a kind of instrument.

OF: Oh, like an 二胡 [èrhú], or..?

BC: Like an 二胡 [èrhú], exactly. They call it, I think, ‘xianzi’ here. I think every man in the village can play it. And they have groups, so they will very often be together in the evenings. The men will play, and the women will sing.

OF: Who needs KTV, right?

BC: Yeah, they don’t need KTV in that case. I think it’s much better than KTV.

OF: There you go. Well Bertrand, thank you. We talked about business, we talked about wine, we talked about religion.

BC: Yeah.

OF: We could have talked about a whole lot more. But I really appreciate your time. Next time. I hope I can spend a longer time here.

BC: I also hope you can, and you can discover this fantastic place. The time here is completely different from the time we have in Shanghai.

OF: Yes.

BC: We can live slowly and profit off that place.

OF: Yes. And before we finish, the only thing I would ask you is: out of everyone you know in China, who do you recommend that I interview for the next season of Mosaic of China?

BC: OK, I've been thinking of this question and I will recommend to you somebody that, in fact, I haven’t known for a long time. His name is Stéphane, Stéphane Chanut. This guy arrived in my life two months ago, he was introduced by a friend. He is General Manager of JCDecaux in Shanghai.

OF: Ah, the advertising company?

BC: Yes, the advertising company. And last year, he started to learn how to make wine.

OF: Ah, OK.

BC: So he followed an online course. I like people who always think out of the box, I would say, and want to start new things.


Well, I look forward to meeting Stéphane. If you could ask him one question. What question would you ask Stéphane?

BC: Will you change your life, and start a winery?

OF: OK, then that's the question that I'll ask him to. Thank you so much Bertrand.


OF: And that’s all from the village of 茨中 [Cízhōng]. Except if you’re watching the video version of this podcast, where you’re getting a little extra treat because I’m right now including a clip from the bullfighting that Bertrand mentioned in Part 2 of our chat. It’s very different to Spanish bullfighting, because the bulls are in the ring with each other, rather than with a matador. Let me also say that I’m including it as a cultural curiosity specific to this region of China, but I should add that neither Bertrand nor I personally condone this activity.

The other place that you can see this video is if you’re a supporter of the podcast on Patreon, where I’ve included it as an attachment in today’s release, along with an extended version of my interview with Bertrand. As with every episode, there’s an average of 10 extra minutes of conversation per show in the PREMIUM version of Mosaic of China. Here are a few clips from today’s:

[Clip 1]

BC: It’s easy to make wine, but difficult to make good wine.

OF: Right.

[Clip 2]

BC: I am pretty sure that we don't have the right variety for each plot.

[Clip 3]

BC: They will give them monkey brain to eat, so that they will be agile like monkeys.

[Clip 4]

BC: We need many years to experiment, 10 or 15 years.

[Clip 5]

BC: They found a winemaker in Switzerland, so they started the 霄嶺 [Xiāolǐng] project.

[Clip 6]

BC: 敖云 [Ao Yun] is from the LVMH Group, they are 60km from here.

[Clip 7]

BC: So our 2015 vintage got the grade 93. The maximum is 100.

OF: Right.

[Clip 8]

BC: Studying what was the best place in China to make wine, and here is the best place.

[End of Audio Clips]

If you’re interested in other episodes with a connection to alcohol in China, be sure to check out my conversation with the distiller from Peddler’s Gin, Fergus Woodward in Season 03 Episode 03, or my conversation with the China General Manager of the Belgian beer company Duvel Moortgat, that’s Sean Harmon from Season 02 Episode 09. And for another episode where the location is also a star of the show, check out Douglon Tse from Season 02 Episode 15, the businessman working in another unique region of China, a small island off the coast of 宁波 [Níngbō]. Funnily enough, there’s a part in that episode where we also talk a little bit about people drinking wine instead of 白酒 [báijiǔ] at business banquets.

Mosaic of China is me, Oscar Fuchs, with artwork by Denny Newell. After the music, there’s a very short catch-up with the person whose voice you heard earlier, the person who referred Bertrand to the Mosaic, Vladimir Djurovic from Season 02 Episode 13. And I’ll see you back here next time.

[Catch-Up Interview]

VD: Hello Oscar.

OF: Good morning Vladimir, thank you very much for joining the call. We are of course doing this remotely. For people who did not listen to our original podcast, you are the founder of Labbrand, which is a branding consultancy.

VD: Yeah.

OF: I was thinking about you. People who have heard our original episode would remember how much both of us are geeks when it comes to the naming side of your business, so naming brands who wanted to come into China, giving them Chinese names. What I was thinking of was, there were a couple of brands that, since our original episode, have closed their doors basically in China. And I was thinking of LinkedIn/领英 [Lǐngyīng]. Does it affect you when something happens to a brand that you helped to name?

VD: I'm glad you didn't mention 爱彼迎 [Àibǐyíng]/Airbnb, right?

OF: Yes

VD: Because it's also recent news.

OF: Yes.

VD: So the list goes on and on. And it's true that we feel sad when one of our clients - or when one of the brands that we created - is supposed to stop some of their operations in China. But with most of them, actually, the brand continues. In terms of in the mind of Chinese customer, even if not having operations in China. So what affects us is more the cut between the West and China that we observe. And we feel like we are a builder of bridges, you know. And we still hope that the words and the names will be very resilient in the brains of our Chinese audiences for those brands, and that there will still be a bridge that can be reused in the future.

OF: Oh well said.

VD: The office and the business went very well during this period. Actually, we won our biggest project. We had more than 25 people working together to win a very complex project we're doing for the first time. Winning or losing it would have made a very different picture, but we ended up on the happy side of winning it. So it was good. We were lucky to find a way to not drop. Our biggest projects at the moment are about helping our clients to orchestrate complex experiences, so that they create lasting impressions to the customer, also to make them meaningful. So yeah, that's what keeps us busy.

OF: Right. Makes sense. And of course, that's something which as a consumer, I understand entirely. Well, thank you Vladimir, I'm very glad that you were able to introduce me to Bertrand as part of this project. It means that you will forever be connected.

VD: Thank you Oscar, for this chain of mosaics that you are forming here, and weaving together. We are definitely connected. And I think this is very meaningful at this time, to have this continuity and this chain of humanity. To reconnect, to invoke these connections, and to feel the energy and the belonging that we can get from it.

OF: You're definitely in the right business, you branded it much better than I could myself. Thank you so much, Vladimir.

VD: Thank you, Oscar.

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