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Korean vintner went from art to the art of winemaking

Nov 11,2010
Park Jae-hwa is the only Korean certified to make wine in Bourgogne. [JoongAng Sunday]
Lou Dumont Cremant Bourgogne
Park Jae-hwa, 43, president of Lou Dumont, has the distinction of being the only Korean vintner certified to produce wine in Bourgogne, France. Her creation, Lou Dumont Cremant de Bourgogne, is a featured wine at the G-20 Business Summit, which began yesterday and finishes today at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in southern Seoul.

The sparkling wine is known for its delicate flavor and fine quality.

Q. What kind of wine is Lou Dumont Cremant de Bourgogne?

A. It’s a Champagne. However, because wines that are not produced in the Champagne region are banned from being labeled “Champagne,” we ended up calling this wine, which is made with chardonnay grapes, Cremant de Bourgogne. It is a high-grade AOC [appellation d’origine controlee] wine.

Who is Lou Dumont?

Lou is the name of our goddaughter. She is the child of a close acquaintance who helped me greatly when I first settled in France. Like the wine, Lou is delicate and elegant. Dumont is a common surname in France and in French it also means “from the mountain.”

Are there other Koreans who produce wine in Bourgogne, France?

I am the only Korean negociant [a wine merchant who buys grapes, produces wine and bottles the result under her own label] in Bourgogne who also exports my own product.

How many bottles of wine do you produce a year?

I mainly produce Cremant and Beaujolais Nouveau, which amounts to roughly 70,000 bottles.

What are your annual sales?

What we make and sell comes to almost one million euro ($1.38 million).

How would you rate your wine this year?

During certain periods, the weather was so bad that it produced grapes with thick skins. However, what is good is that the tannins and colors are on the peels. This allowed us to cultivate deeply-colored, concentrated juice. I think the quality [of this year’s crop] was similar to that of 2006, which drew quite a good response from experts.

What first drew you to France?

In 1996, I went to France to study art restoration. As soon as I arrived, I fell in love with wine so I decided to change my focus. After finishing my studies, and just before coming back home, I made a phone call to say goodbye to Koji [who is now her husband] who studied with me. He was working in Japan to connect French negociants with Japanese importers. Then he persuaded me to start producing wine in France. That’s how I came to live in France. Koji is the one who guided me into the world of wine by taking me to great wineries.

By Park Kyung-duk [enational@joongang.co.kr]