Moet Hennessy in joint venture for Chinese bubbly

PARIS Thu May 12, 2011 1:04pm EDT

PARIS May 12 (Reuters) - Chinese consumers who have developed a taste for champagne may soon get a locally produced alternative thanks to a joint venture by leading French producer Moet Hennessy (LVMH.PA) with a Chinese agricultural company.

Moet, 66 percent owned by luxury goods group LVMH, plans to grow grapes for a "high-end sparkling wine" in Northwest China together with farm operator Ningxia Nongken, the company said.

Moet, which owns Moet & Chandon, the world's biggest champagne maker, said it will produce the bubbly at a winery it plans to build nearby the 66-hectare farm.

Other sparkling wine producers like Spain's Freixenet have already seen strong demand in China, which is also a major market for Moet Hennessy's other signature product, Cognac.

(Reporting by Christian Plumb; Editing by Erica Billingham)