Wine Word

Australian Natural | Ross Tan and Nick van Leeuwen on organic wine, ‘affordable luxury’ and why everyone loves the pig

August 24, 2015 // 0 Comments

Ross Tan and Nick van Leeuwen of Australian Natural have spent most of their first year in business relentlessly promoting their organic and biodynamic wines in China. Here is a quick and dirty earthy interview about their organic wines and their views of the market. How would you explain organic wine and biodynamic wine in one sentence each? Nick: Organics contrasts with “industrial” or “conventional” practices by prohibiting any use of synthetic chemicals or artificial fertilisers in the vineyard or any chemical additives–other than minimal sulphur dioxide–in the winery. Ross: Whilst organics is about what growers cannot do, biodynamics goes further and […]

Wine word: Charles Simon on ‘Grower’s Champagne’ in China

July 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

We are seeing more and more quality bubbly in Beijing, whether from major players such as France, Spain and Italy or lesser-known ones such as South Africa, Chile and China. That includes so-called ‘Grower’s Champagne‘.  I asked Charles Simon of Seina a few questions about this category of wine and the products he sells. The price of Champagne in Beijing is often three times or more than Cava or Prosecco or other sparkling wines. Why is it so expensive? This is quite a complex topic as you need to consider many aspects of the business. The price difference starts even before […]

Chris Roberts on the inaugural Food & Wine Experience at DoubleTree by Hilton Guangzhou

May 15, 2015 // 0 Comments

Many wine fans in Beijing make the annual pilgrimage to the Hilton Food and Wine Experience, which will mark its twentieth anniversary in just a few years time. Chris Roberts, who led the team that organized five of those events, has taken the tradition to DoubleTree by Hilton Guangzhou, where he is general manager. I asked Roberts about the first Food and Wine Experience in Guangzhou, which will be uncorked this Saturday. On deciding to do the event: “I’ve been in Guangzhou for two and a half years, one and a half to open the hotel, and now we’ve been open for […]

Tommy Lam on the State of Sommeliers in China

April 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

Tommy Lam has organized a steady stream of wine education events in China over the past seven years. His most recent was the fourth annual Young China Sommelier Team Competition last Friday in Qingdao, where 63 finalists from an initial group of 1200-plus applicants competed at The Westin Hotel (results here). I spoke to the seemingly indefatigable Lam the night before the event. Grape Wall: How do you feel with the final just 12 hours away? Tommy Lam: Every year it’s the same. It’s exciting to see the kids really inspired and supported by their team managers. A lot of them have never been out of […]

Wine Word: Helan Qing Xue winemaker Zhang Jing on Ningxia’s scene

April 14, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce Two years ago, I interviewed Zhang Jing, winemaker at Helan Qing Xue in Ningxia, just after she returned home from a three-month working holiday in Australia. She talked about lessons learned Down Under, the move toward fruitier wine in Ningxia, and more. See the interview here. I met Zhang again last week and we talked about another recent trip–this time she went to New Zealand–as well as the Ningxia wine scene. Some comments… On her recent trip to New Zealand: When people look at New Zealand, they often only think of Marlborough and Sauvignon Blanc. But New Zealand […]

Wine Word: Michel Bettane & Thierry Desseauve on Chinese wines, consumer attitudes, UK critics & more

March 8, 2015 // 1 Comment

By Jim Boyce French wine critics Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve are in China for a week of tastings and classes. I talked to them on Friday in Beijing, just after they finished tasting 180 Chinese wines with a group of twelve judges, and asked about the state of local wines, changes in consumer attitudes, and why the UK, not France, leads in wine criticism and education. GW [Grape Wall]: On changes in consumer attitudes they have witnessed while leading ‘Grand Tastings’ in Hong Kong since 2009, the ‘Shanghai Wine Experience’ since 2013, and other events: MB [Michel Bettane]: We have Chinese […]

Selling wine in China: Helene Ponty on the Beijing market

September 3, 2014 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce I recently wrote an article about the Beijing market for an upcoming issue of Wine Business International. It includes insights from a handful of industry players who work for companies that span top-ten distributors to small retailers. One of them is Helene Ponty, who moved to Beijing nearly three years ago to handle importing, marketing and sales of wines produced by the family winery in Bordeaux. The excerpts below include comments she made that I couldn’t fit into the article. For more of Ponty’s insights, and those of others in the China trade, see Wine Business International. On Beijing market trends… “In terms of growth, this year […]

China wine word: Lee Yean Yean of Grace on Shanxi, Sonata and ‘beer o’clock’

May 26, 2014 // 0 Comments

Lee Yean Yean has spent most of the past decade at Grace Vineyard in rural Shanxi province in northern China, far from his native land of Malaysia, and currently works as production manager. I asked him a few questions about his experience at Grace, his favorite wines, and what fans of the operation can look forward to. How did a guy from Malaysian end up making wine in China? Every time people ask me about this, my reply is always “accidentally“! I learned about Grace from a close friend in Malaysia. I sent an email to [owner] Judy [Chan] to join the vintage in 2006 and have been involved ever since. I never […]

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