August 2007

Say Grace: Winery marks tenth year

August 28, 2007 // 4 Comments

There’s general consensus that the best Chinese wine, both in terms of quality and value, is from Grace Vineyard in Shanxi province. Congratuations to the winery, then, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary today. I’d hoped to attend the festivities, but as with the Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Fair, duty called – such is life. But I nevertheless look forward to enjoying more of the vineyard’s wines in the very near future. In fact, a tasting of five Grace wines is slated for this Friday in Beijing, from 6:30 PM. For details, email me at Finally, for background, here’s […]

Books: Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2008

August 26, 2007 // 4 Comments

I picked up Hugh Johnson‘s Pocket Wine Book 2008 over the weekend. Just in case anyone is interested, the section on China covers one-fifth of a page out of more than 300 pages [my comments are in square brackets]: With nearly 5% of world production, China is the sixth-largest producer and continues to increase by 15% annually. Twenty-six provinces produce wine from over 400 wineries, especially Shandong, Hebei, Tianjin, Jilin, Xinjiang, Beijing, Henan, Gansu, Nin[g]xia, and Yunan. [China doesn’t have this many provinces. It’s safe to say, though, that wine is a great many parts of China.] Four companies dominate – Dynasty, Changyu, […]

Media: China fakes Canada on ice wine

August 22, 2007 // 0 Comments

Here’s a story to make a wine lover shiver: When a friend complimented Niagara winemaker Allan Schmidt for successfully cracking the icewine market in mainland China, Schmidt dismissed it: He wasn’t selling his wine in China, he said. But the friend persisted. He said he was sure he’d seen Schmidt’s Vineland Estates icewine for sale there. “Again, I told him: ‘No, you must be mistaken,’” Schmidt recalls. Then the friend gave him a link to a website. Schmidt was stunned. There, a Chinese company was selling a product called Vineland icewine, boasting of a joint venture with a Canadian partner and, […]

BB Cued: Merlot or Malbec with Cherry Popsicles?

August 21, 2007 // 0 Comments

Note: I’m still finishing my notes from the August 9 lectures at Beijing’s wine workshop (see the first three posts: China Wine 101, Shop ‘Til You Pop and Taste, with Chinese characteristics). I hope to have them up with a week. China Radio International interviewed me earlier this year about – acquaintances in the wine sector gasp with horror! – wine. That’s right: Beijing Boyce, owner of a level-one Wine Spirits and Education Trust certificate, able to differentiate Champagne from Cabernet Sauvignon, and collector of corks (they make great mobiles!) dispensed wine wisdom to the masses. I thought it prudent to burst onto the national scene […]

Wine Workshop III: Taste, with Chinese characteristics

August 15, 2007 // 0 Comments

I attended seven lectures and tasted 14 local wines on August 9, the second day of the International Workshop on the Wine Market in China, held in Beijing. I’ll post notes all week. Here’s a shocker: Chinese people drink wine to get drunk. That statement might trigger eye rolls from more than a few people who see it as stating the obvious, but in a world where pairing wine and food gains growing popularity it can be easy to “miss the bunch for the grapes”, and this was a point made by wine educator and writer Frankie Zhao, who discussed the […]

Wine Workshop II: Shop ’til you pop

August 14, 2007 // 1 Comment

I attended seven lectures and tasted fourteen local wines on August 9, the second day of the International Workshop on the Wine Market in China, held in Beijing. I’ll post notes all week. Getting wine to China is one thing, getting consumers to pull the cork on a purchase is quite another. Huiqin Ma, associate professor at China Agricultural University and the workshop organizer, reported on a wine survey done with Ying Yu of 230 consumers in Beijing supermarkets. The sample group included 110 men and 120 women, most of whom fell predominantly between the ages of 18 and 40 (~94%) […]

Wine workshop I: China wine 101

August 13, 2007 // 3 Comments

I attended seven lectures and tasted fourteen local wines on August 9, the second day of the International Workshop on the Wine Market in China, held in Beijing. I’ll post notes all week. The workshop was at China Agricultural University near Beijing’s Fifth Ring Road. It’s the boondocks if you live downtown as I do, but once there – and having dealt with a cab driver who wanted to drop me miles from the school – I saw the wisdom. The smog is lighter, the cicadas buzz, and a lazy day feel permeates the campus. Plus, the Summer Palace, which ranks only behind the Great Wall […]

Going to market: China wine workshop

August 10, 2007 // 3 Comments

I cashed in some annual leave yesterday to attend the International Workshop on the Wine Market in China, held in Beijing, and it was time well spent. Insightful lectures on the buying behaviors of local consumers, lessons for foreign winemakers looking to partner with China distributors, and government policies that impact foreign wines were capped with a tasting of 14 Chinese wines from at five (at least) provinces – it was my first chance to try wines from Jilin in the far northeast and Yunnan in the southwest and I think this was an intriguing part of the program as it was the […]

1 2