Grape press: China wine news from around the Web

By Jim Boyce

Here are a few tastes of recent online items about the China wine scene.

‘Millions of Chinese will be disappointed’
In her Financial Times column, Jancis Robinson writes about her recent trip to China. Since her last visit in 2003, Chinese wines have not made the progress she had hoped:

On my first forays in 2002 and 2003 I had been struck by the relatively low quality of Chinese wine and by what an extraordinarily high proportion of it tasted like very, very thin, not quite clean, red bordeaux. Wine made from grapes was still a pretty marginal phenomenon in China five years ago but, in the meantime, China has become the world’s sixth most important grower of grapevines. The number of Chinese with aspirations to a western lifestyle has, to use a hackneyed but in this case thoroughly justified phrase, grown exponentially. And wine is now seen as an increasingly familiar accoutrement to that lifestyle.

The dominant company, Great Wall, is said to fill about 150m bottles of wine a year now. As an admirer of Chinese determination and organisation, I was expecting to see real progress in wine quality. But, overall, I was disappointed that the norm did not seem to have changed much in five years.

See the full column. See also the Grape Wall of China interview with Robinson during her recent trip.

Hong Kong woos the wine industry
correspondent Shailesh Palekar takes a look at the impact of Hong Kong abolishing its wine taxes. Among the more intriguing sections:

For Gregory Deeb of Crown Wine Cellars, a premier wine cellaring facility headquartered in Hong Kong, the zero tax announcement is the most significant development in the region’s fine wine industry in the last 100 years. “Conservatively estimated, Hong Kong already owns around 1 million cases of fine wines stored in other countries,” Deeb said. “Within a few days of the tax announcement, our company alone had 10 container loads full of fine wines on back orders. This goes to show how significant the tax cuts have been and the orders have not peaked nor stopped. They continue to come on a daily basis.”

‘Taste of Australia’ held in Chengdu
reports the Austrade Representative Office in China organized an event with more than 20 Australian wineries and Chinese agents in Chengdu on March 20. The site also reports on a tasting of wines from Southern France in Chengdu, March 16-17. Chengdu held a Sugar & Liquor Fair on March 18.

Vinexpo slams “opportunistic” rivals
Maggie Rosen
at writes that Vinexpo Asia-Pacific organizers are unhappy that the Hong Kong Trade Development Council is holding a Wine Expo just three months after Vinexpo in May.

According to Wine Expo organizers, they are not attempt to compete with Vinexpo:

‘We are targeting different exhibitors and a different audience,’ said Raymond Yip, assistant executive director of the TDC.

‘In addition to new world and European producers, for example, we plan to attract a lot of wine producers from Asian countries – the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. And one of the days will be open to the public, allowing closer interaction between sellers and consumers.

A Vinexpo Asia-Pacific spokesperson described the Wine Expo move as ‘opportunistic’:

‘We have held our wine fair somewhere in Asia every other year since 1998,’ said the spokesperson. ‘This will be our third in Hong Kong. We feel we really have helped develop the market in the first place.’

See the full article.

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