Meet Julien Boulard aka "Zhulian", one of China's most well-known French wine professionals with over 40,000 followers on Weibo.
We are truly thrilled to welcome Julien, a Frenchmen of passion and talent, to bring the French Wine Scholar study & certification program to Nanning and Guangzhou. The first sessions will be announced shortly on Zhulian Wines' Weibo page.
Q1. Julien, give us a brief background on your history in wine and your wine school
After completing a Master in International Affairs (which I took because they offered intensive Chinese classes), my first job was for a wine importer located in a small Chinese city called Nanning. Well, small as in six million habitants…! The boss obviously offered me the job because I was French, and this particular feature could help bring some “authenticity” to his company. I wasn’t keen on being just a white face who could speak Chinese, so I decided that I had to study wine to add another string to my bow.
The first wine course I took was at Bordeaux’ Ecole du Vin in 2008. It was a week-long intensive course after which I became a Bordeaux International Wine Educator. I began to host Bordeaux wines seminars in China while still working for the importer.
I started to get more and more curious, and I wanted to go beyond Bordeaux. I did research online and saw there was a school called the WSET which provided courses covering the main wine producing regions. I took and passed my WSET Level 3 in 2009 and was hooked! I applied for the Diploma the following year and completed that in 2012. I’m now studying for the Master of Wine, and I passed the Advanced Sommelier certification of the Court of Masters Sommelier in 2016.
Q2. What type of educational experience do you provide at Zhulian Wines that you think sets you apart, as a wine school?
We mainly teach the WSET courses, but we also offer all kinds of tastings and short, themed classes every month. I think what sets us apart is the overall quality of the courses we offer: we have very high standards in term of depth and breadth of knowledge, and we are very picky with the wines we choose.
I feel we’re also very good in respect to the ongoing support we provide after students have finished the course. For instance, we have developed a micro-app integrated in our WeChat account through which students can practice. If a student takes a WSET Level 2 course at Zhulian Wines, he/she can practice by answering 350 multiple-choice questions we’ve created. Not only do they know their score after submitting their answers, but they also get an explanation for each wrong answer (which means that we actually wrote over 1000 wrong answers explanations!!).
Then they also have access to audio files where I go over the various topics of the course.
Q3. Why did you decide to start offering the French Wine Scholar Program at Zhulian Wines?
I love the WSET for the breadth of its syllabus. However, I wanted to add another course which could help our students to go more in-depth on a specific wine region or country. The French Wine Scholar offers exactly that!
Moreover, our students are becoming more and more educated! And the more they learn, the more they want to know! Therefore it makes absolute sense to offer them a high quality, specialized course like the FWS.
Q4. If you were going to be stuck on a desert island for the next 20 years and had to choose only one wine to enjoy on the island during that time, what would it be?
Well, it depends on where the island is located! If it’s in a tropical area, I think I’d take with me a few cases of Alsatian Riesling, maybe Grand Cru. The problem is… will the water be cool enough to store them… ?! If it’s in a cold region, I’d definitely take some great Chateauneuf-du-pape! I’m in love with Grenache!
Q5. Any plans to offer the Italian Wine Scholar program next?
Absolutely. I yet have to dive deeper into both study manuals, but from what I have seen, the Italian Wine Scholar program seems a great program for committed students of wine. It looks very comprehensive in nature and, most importantly, it is academically rigorous.