China is the world's largest market for red wine, which should be enough to put it on the radar of any winemaker. But as the business seeks to recover from the Chinese government's crackdown on corruption and lavish gift-giving, consumers are turning away from expensive French labels to "new world" exporters like Chile, the fifth-largest wine-producing nation and second-largest supplier to China.
For Chile, this is more than a sales opportunity: the hope is that the wine business can wean the country off its dependence on bulk exports like copper and agricultural commodities.
Wine appreciation is growing among prosperous Chinese. In Shanghai or Beijing, professionals meet at wine bars. Well-off couples give a bottle as a gift. At holiday times, families propose toasts with red wine instead of the fiery, high-alcohol baijiu favoured by older men.
Ten years ago, Chinese who liked the cachet but not the taste of wine mixed it with Sprite to make it go down better. Supermarkets would plastic-wrap two bottles of wine to a can of Coca-Cola as a sales promotion. A Chinese dairy executive once proudly poured yoghurt into French wine, to demonstrate the versatility of his product.
All that is in the past. Ecommerce is the fastest-growing channel for wine sales in China and specialist clubs are springing up. In 2013, Mr López moved to Shanghai, intending to stay for six months. He ended up living for two years in a country he calls "crazy, like a movie on fast-forward".
Around the globe, wines from Chile, South Africa, Australia and the US have eroded the market for their French counterparts. Diners in London and New York now choose a bottle based on the type of grape rather than their knowledge of French geography.
China was an exception to this until recently. Confused about which wine to buy, newly rich Chinese would simply buy the most expensive French labels. "People are becoming more sophisticated in terms of thinking which countries the wine is coming from rather than just choosing France," says James Roy, analyst at the China Market Research Group in Shanghai.
Mr López sees an opening for Chile. He wants to convince the 36m Chinese who purchase at least one bottle a month that wine need not be expensive to be good value.
Wine consultant Guy Hooper recalls extravagant dinners even in provincial cities, far from Beijing. "Everyone was very glamorous and we were like the celebrities. There were models on catwalks, signed bottles as gifts, and then a businessman buys 60 or 80 cases."
Those in the marketing business who thought one such sale meant they had mastered China are having to think again. Many failed to check on basics, such as whether their Chinese agents owned refrigerated warehouses or genuine distribution networks. "Wine spoil destroys brand," Mr Hooper says.
Following that deal, copper exports quickly turned China into Chile's largest trading partner. Wine exports also surged, doubling within eight years. But most Chinese who drank Chilean wine were no more aware of where it came from than they were of the origin of the copper in their mobile phones. That is because most of the Chilean product sold to China is "bulk wine", a commodity, like copper. Chile's sunny, dry days and cool evenings create far more grape juice than the market for Chilean bottled wine can support. The excess is pumped into plastic bladders big enough to fit inside a shipping container and sent to China or Europe.
Bottled wines account for three-quarters of Chile's wine sales to China by value, but only one-third by volume. The bulk trade could suffer if China ever adopts labelling rules to make clear where wine comes from.