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Lan Chi Pat

From left: LAU Chi Sun (Publisher of Wine Now magazine), Cindy SHI Fung-Li (Principal of Lan Chi Pat Memorial Secondary School), CHAU Tak-Wai (Chaiman of Yan Chai Hospital Board), Jean-Michel CAZES and Alfred WONG (retired, former CEO of Yan Chai Hospital).

Students of Pauillac's Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Jean visited Hong Kong from 21 February to 5 March 2008.

Their Hong Kong counterparts from the Lan Chi Pat Memorial School will visit France from 30 April to 12 May 2008.

Story and Photos By Ch'ng Poh Tiong

Chateau Lynch-Bages was one of the earliest Bordeaux wines to be exported to Hong Kong. In fact, since 1989, the Pauillac estate has been served in the First Class cabin of Cathay Pacific Airlines. The main reason for the success of Lynch-Bages comes down to the fact that its owner, Jean-Michel CAZES, has been tirelessly travelling to Asia to promote his family's wines for 20 years.

"My experience told me very quickly that in order to be successful, it was essential to market wine with easy-to-pronounce names because consumers do not often speak foreign languages."

One day, a Chinese friend in Hong Kong suggested to him "Lan Chi Pat", the name of a famous 20th century Cantonese opera singer. As luck would have it, the pronunciation is very similar to the French for Lynch-Bages.

"It is very important for a brand in China that the name be positive and also well-respected," Cazes informed.

The story became even more interesting two years ago.

"In 2006, we learned in Pauillac that the son of the late, great Lan Chi Pat, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, had generously contributed to the creation of a secondary school in Hong Kong (in Tseung Kwan, New Territories) in memory of his illustrious father. The "Lan Chi Pat Memorial Secondary School" is managed by a large charitable organization that is also in charge of a major hospital (in Yan Chai) and 25 other schools. Thanks to a mutual friend, I contacted the senior staff at Yan Chai, some of whom, as it turned out, are great connoisseurs of Bordeaux."

The staff suggested that Chateau Lynch Bages sponsor a dinner and auction to raise funds for the school. Jean-Michel Cazes immediately accepted the idea. Cazes felt that he was repaying a sort of moral debt. After donating some excellent bottles, magnums, and jeroboams of Lynch-Bages, Cazes presided over a gala dinner on the 24th of March 2007 at the Celestial Court Restaurant in Kowloon. The participants included a large number of Hong Kong connoisseurs and the event raised significant funds for the school.

A link between the Médoc and the New Territories was thus born.

Jean-Michel Cazes also visited the Lan Chi Pat Memorial Secondary School. There, he met the principal, Mrs Cindy SHI Fung Ling, as well as teachers and pupils. The school has around 1,000 students aged 11 to 18. It also has excellent facilities including computers, workshops and sports facilities. Classes are taught principally in Chinese, but there are also English courses. As befits the inspiration for the name of the institution, the Lan Chi Pat Memorial Secondary School has a very dynamic Cantonese opera section and a museum containing magnificent operatic costumes.

Student Exchange Programme

The stage was set for a social and cultural connection between Lan Chi Pat, a Chinese opera artist, and Lynch Bages, a Bordeaux wine. It was thought that a student exchange programme would further strengthened the connection.

L'Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Jean in Pauillac, established 150 years ago, seemed an ideal partner. The principal, Matthieu POMMIERS, envisioned goals very similar to those of his Hong Kong counterpart. The Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Jean is a demanding school, open to giving everyone a chance to do the best they can.

The French school offers numerous cultural activities as well as worthwhile exchanges and partnerships, with wonderful opportunities for young people to widen their horizons. It also places special emphasis on language teaching, especially English, but also German and Spanish. Twinned with a secondary school in Ahaus, Germany, for the past 22 years, Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Jean is also exploring links with a similar school in Madrid, and has a proven track record with student exchange programs.

When the various partners involved came to an agreement, Jean-Michel Cazes undertook to finance the project. He contacted Vincent CHEUNG, Maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in China, who was very receptive to the idea. The Hong Kong Chapter of the Commanderie organized a dinner on 26 October 2007 followed by a charity auction of wines from the properties of the Cazes family, including Chateau Lynch-Bages, Ormes de Pez and Villa Bel-Air.

The evening was jointly presided by Vincent Cheung and Sylvie CAZES-REGIMBEAU, sister of Jean-Michel. Several 'large format' bottles of great vintages of Lynch-Bages, such as the mythical 2000, were auctioned, as was a trip to the Médoc. This included a stay at Chateau Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac, which Michelin 2-star restaurant has a very fine reputation thanks to Chef Thierry MARX (who has worked in Singapore). The proceeds of the gala event enabled the project organizers to set their plans into motion, namely the exchange of students from the two schools.

The two principals, Matthieu Pommiers of the Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Jean and Cindy Shi Fung Ling of the Lan Chi Pat Memorial School, created an association with Chateau Lynch Bages named the "Lan Chi Pat Alliance". It was decided that exchanges on both sides would involve 10 students approximately of 15 years old who would be accompanied by two teachers. Cathay Pacific Airlines would also sponsor the air-tickets.

A group of French students visited Hong Kong from 21 February to 5 March 2008. As for the Hong Kong students, they would visit Paris and Bordeaux from 30 April to 12 May 2008. As this magazine went to print before the 30 April, we regret that we do not have photographs of the students from the Lan Chi Pat Memorial School on their visit to France.

All Rights Reserved · The Wine Review · 2013