Alexandre MA, a Chinese wine critic and wine educator based in Bordeaux, is launching his website alexandrema.com. He aims to make it an educational and indispensable wine media for China’s wine market.
©Alexandre MA | Chinese Wine Critic & Wine Educator
Alexandre has a great talent for tasting and profound knowledge of wines around the world. He is the 2016 world champion of blind tasting (Chinese team) and the only Asian and youngest journalist admitted to the RVF tasting committee since 1927. Also, in the previous 10 years, he has trained many wine amateurs and professionals in both China and France.
Now, he is looking forward to going further by making alexandrema.com a major reference for wine critics dedicated to the Chinese market. And he will continue to devote himself to wine education, sharing wine knowledge with wine lovers around the world.
In May 2023, Alexander Ma successfully joined Wine Searcher, which indicates that AMA’s wine reviews and scores have been more widely quoted and used internationally.
Alexandre MA, through his recent interview with WINWSA, talks about his development and change in the wine industry and shares the story with remarkable females in wine industry.
ML：How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business?
ML：What makes you devote yourself to the wine and spirits sector?
AM: My hometown is Ningxia，a famous wine region in China. I don’t know whether it’s the influence of the “origin” or the call of the mysterious force, I suddenly realized that wine is what I really want to pursue after visiting a winery. I then quit my job and went to France with my passion for wine, and started a difficult but happy journey of wine.
ML：What are the main transformation & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
AM：When I first arrived in France, international consumers preferred full-bodied wine with high maturity. Over the past decades, under the influence of Burgundy’s single vineyard and the concept of terroir, there has been a massive “terroir discussion” in both old and new worlds.
People paid more attention to expressing the local terroir, and are more confident when sharing their own understanding of wine. The whole wine world is also accelerating towards a new chapter with this atmosphere.
ML：What do you enjoy most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered in the industry? What drives you to keep going?
AM：What I enjoy most is the exploration of different terroirs. When you live around a vineyard for a long time, you will find that nature has provided us with much beauty and magic. Even in this era of relatively advanced science, there are still many natural phenomena that are difficult to explain. When tasting wine after a field trip, the local landscape unfolds in front of you like a 3D map, and you seem to be able to see the whole world in the wine glass.
There are many challenges I have encountered, and the most difficult and time-consuming challenge is how to win the recognition of the wine industry in France. It’s like asking a Chinese listen to a French talking about tea culture. What drives me forward is self-confidence, hard work, focus, and luck.
ML：Any Advice to your peers?
AM：Although I have been in wine industry for more than ten years, I am still a newcomer as an international wine critic. There are many things to learn from the predecessors.
ML：Can you name some women that have impressed you in your career?
AM：Fortunately, I have been helped by many excellent females on my way of studying wine. Jancis Robinson was the one who influenced me most. I bought lots of her wine books, and it was these books that gave me a glimpse into the fascinating world of wine when I was a student.
Later, I would often meet her due to work, and every time we parted, she would tell me to work hard. It’s really endless spiritual motivation for me.
In 2021, when I decided to leave my job as an independent wine critic for the French wine magazine RVF, it published an article on its official website introducing Alexandre MA, a Chinese wine critic.
She gave me great help in terms of knowledge and spirit, and she lent me a helping hand at critical moments without asking for anything in return. How can such a wine person not be respected.
ML：Have you heard of the “HeForShe”Campaign? What do you think we can do to support this in the wine industry?
AM：I’ve only heard of it, but I don’t know much about it. I will pay special attention to it in the future.
ML：Why did you want to become a wine critic in the first place?
AM：At first, I just wanted to share my wine-tasting experience. Later, many friends said that was very vivid and visual, and easy to resonate with. Gradually, I came up with the idea of being a wine critic. After winning the World Blind Tasting Championship (China Team), RVF (French wine magazine) offered me a job, and it was this work experience that convinced me that wine critic was what I wanted to be.
ML：Given the rarity of a Chinese wine critic working in Bordeaux, are there any advantages and disadvantages of this “identity” of yours?
AM：The biggest disadvantage is that I need to go through multiple rounds of ability tests before getting industry recognition, especially the top enologists’ recognition.
The biggest advantage is that I was born in China and settled in France. I have achieved a good integration of Eastern and Western cultures. I like to visualize and anthropomorphize wine so that people can feel a strong sense of picture or rhythm in wine. It not only retains Chinese elements but also respects the working methods of traditional European wine critics. For those wine people from Bordeaux who have been traveling around the world, they feel familiar with me, however, I have my own oriental personality which makes me unique.
ML：You are dedicated to the Chinese wine market, what is your opinion on its current development? What do you believe is the best way to promote wines to potential Chinese consumers?
AM：The development of the Chinese wine market in recent years is obvious. Although it has been greatly impacted by the epidemic in the past two years, I believe that with the improvement of Chinese wine consumers’ knowledge and the continuous maturity of distribution channels, premium wine will be bound to flourish.
I think the best way of promotion is face-to-face communication with students and wine lovers during the tasting. Wine is a diversified culture carrier. When tasting with different people, even the same bottle will show different flavors. This is a multi-dimensional experience that cannot be experienced during online education or self-reading. Of course, it’s better to have the opportunity to study or have an internship in the wine region.
ML：Bordeaux has numerous time-honored and renowned wineries, while we also observe the rapid growth of New World wine regions. How do you see this change and which region do you believe has the greatest potential of claiming the lion share of the international wine market?
AM：There is a popular saying in Bordeaux: “Everything starts and ends in Bordeaux “. It means that many people start to understand wine because of Bordeaux; with the improvement of knowledge dimension, they will continue to dabble in the world’s other region and taste the world’s fine wines. But after looking around the world, they feel that Bordeaux wine become opulent with the precipitation of time, and it is a truly eternal classic.
It is also for this reason that in recent years, more and more famous international wineries have joined the Bordeaux family and released new vintage wines through the Bordeaux trading platform, including Masseto, Opus One, Chadwick, Catena Zapata and many other international well-known wineries.
ML：What are the indispensable qualities of a good wine critic?
AM：Focus on professional area, lifelong learning, know about everything of local terroirs, unique insight into wine tasting.
ML：Which Bordeaux wine would you like to recommend to our audience?
AM：In order to let consumers better understand the most outstanding wines of Bordeaux each year, Every year I publish three “AMA Selection” when I release the bottling tasting report. Those are 《Hidden Dragon Selection》，《Kunlun Selection》，《Hidden Jade Selection》
ML：Who will you recommend us for an interview as the next WWS figure?
AM：Ning Ma, the editor-in-chief of Lookvin. Although she is a young lady, she has a very deep understanding of the Chinese wine market. Thanks to her study experience in France, her wine knowledge and sensitivity to consumers are outstanding. With her help, Lookvin has grown to be a comprehensive wine media with a good reputation in China’s wine industry.
Image courtesy: Alexandre MA and Internet
· E N D ·