Wine and baijiu | Did Penfolds borrow our April Fool’s joke!?

By Jim Boyce | Is Treasury Wine Estates following this blog!? Or a higher-up at Penfolds? Maybe Peter Gago? Because a new wine-baijiu blend called ‘waijiu‘ was our April Fool’s joke this spring and now Penfolds has announced it will release a product that combines wine and baijiu for the China market this fall.

Coincidence? You decide!

Along with announcing it will add a wine sourced from California, Penfolds also released info on some “special bottlings”, including one that involves China’s national spirit, baijiu:

“Lot. 518 is a Spirited Wine – a premium fortified Barossa Shiraz (94%) enlivened with Baijiu; scheduled for release in September 2018.”

TWE and Penfolds have been in the China hot seat recently due to reports of a massive amount of entry-level stock flooding the market.

According to Bloomberg, the alcohol level of the new product will be 21.5 percent, less than half of many baijius. It also quoted Penfolds chief winemaker [and baijiu aficionado] Peter Gago as saying “This will broaden our base and help future-proof Penfolds.”

Australia is second-biggest source of imported bottled wine in China and has steadily been catching up on leader France for years.

But for all the media coverage of grape wine in China, including of the country’s own increasingly good local brands, it still only holds a small fraction of the market share of baijiu. So maybe Penfolds is onto something here.

By the way, I co-organize World Baijiu Day, which involved events in dozens of cities each August 9. Check it out here.

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