Dear Grape Wallers,
Who knew a New Year would need a new newsletter so soon?
Learn about the Shanghai retail scene, including key areas like B2B, B2C, O2O and OMG (kidding on that last one). Understand how the fortunes of Beijing's sommeliers haven't matched the rapid rise of wine in China. Read about a home decor shop that doubles as a wine bar and provides important lessons for appealing to consumers.
Plus, Ningxia has a new wine bureau director, California Wine Institute caps a successful run, Paradox expands to Beijing, and a Piedmont tasting recap.
More details below. As always,please pass this newsletter along to others interested in China's wine scene. They can sign up themselves at this link
Beer, cocktail and spirits fans face far better options than their grape-loving brethren in Beijing, whose hopes are raised every time a slew of wine bars opens and dashed when the same spots close or water down the aspirations. Here’s hoping the newest wave, including Buono Bocca, Fu, Vesuvio and Vin Vino, improve the scene. But the most inspiring place of the past year wasn’t even focused on wine.
The core business of Pop-Up Beijing is interior decor. This venue stocks everything from antiques and reproductions to one-of-a-kind works by local artists to China-centric souvenirs with just the right kitsch factor. It’s a Santa’s workshop of items that draws a steady stream of newbies and loyal customers.
Pop-Up also sells a shitload of good wine. To understand why, see the full story here.
Behind the fleeting headlines about flourishing wine imports in China lies the enduring reality of actually selling that stock. Wine retail is a tough game with constantly changing rules. Or, more accurately, dozens of games, as each region and demographic presents unique challenges.
Shanghai is the most intriguing city of all: it processes one third of wine imports, has the most disposable income per capita, and offers a history of openness to foreign products and practices.
The most recent issue of Meininger’s Wine Business International includes a story I wrote on that scene. It covers shops, restaurants, hypermarkets, online vendors and more. Get the pdf, posted with permission, at this link.
Want to know even more about Shanghai retail? See these extended interviews with Oliver Zhou of vinehoo and Simone InContro of VinItaly.
(The story cites Alberto Fernandez of Torres, Andrew Tan of 1919, Campbell Thompson of Wine Republic, Charles Carrard of Paradox, Marcus Ford of Pudao Wines, Oliver Zhou of vinehoo, Simone Incontro of VinItaly, Tommy Lam of China National Sommelier Competition, Vincente Muedra of Sommelier International, and last but not least, Thomas Sammons, the former U.S. consul in Shanghai who wrote about the scene in 1916.)
Another story I wrote! I figured this one about Beijing sommeliers would be easy. Meininger's sent a few examples of top-ten lists for other cities and it seemed like a simple matter of using those as a guide for covering the local market.
I was wrong. The optimism of a wine scene with huge growth in imports, online sales and course attendance doesn't fully translate to sommeliers. Their hours are long and pay low, their numbers and power are limited, and many leave for other jobs and a better quality of life. See the pdf posted at this link, with permission, to learn more of this situation and of some of the city's top sommelier.
(People cited include Bruce Lee of China World Summit Wing, Dorian Tang of ASC, Frank Hao of Tavola, Hans Qu of Cuatro Sol, Ignace Lecleir of TRB, Kerry Qin of Rosewood, Larry Yang, Li Meiyu of Park Hyatt, Lu Yang of Shangri-La, Lynne Chen of TRB, Max Chong of Peninsula, Vicente Muedra of Sommelier International and Weiley Lu of Wine Room.).
is the new director of the Bureau of Grape Industry Development
in Ningxia, replacing the retiring Li Xueming
. And given he was the bureau’s deputy director, and involved in a dizzying range of projects over the past five years, this promotion suggests the Ningxia wine industry’s present course will continue. More here
will open its third French restaurant and wine bar, sibling to venues in Shanghai
, next month in Beijing
. Backed by the wine distributor of the same name, Paradox will have a wine list that's primarily French but includes options from about the globe. And, says Charles Carrard
, pricier wines will list for about the same price they sell for at Carrefour, More here
Call 'em legation libations: California Wine Institute teamed with U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus last month for a holiday tasting at the embassy in Beijing. The event felt like a cap for two years of CWI initiatives and for an ambassador who have been pro-U.S. wine and whose term is winding down. More here.
Finally, it seemed like Italian Wine Month on Grape Wall given an interview with Simone Incontro of VinItaly a report on a 12-label, 12-region tasting at Italian wine bar Vesuvio and a Piedmont event at Tao House. What struck me most about the latter occasion, featuring the brand Salvano, was how easily the wines divided into those that work with or without food. More here.
Read Grape Wall here. Follow on Facebook here and Twitter here. And subscribe to the newsletter here. You can reach Jim Boyce at grapewallofchina (at) gmail.com.
Note: The content of this newsletter is general information. I make no guarantee as to its completeness or accuracy. Use it at your own risk. In other words, I try hard to be accurate, but mistakes can happen, so reader beware! Also, I'm not a fan of spam and aim to send this newsletter only to people who signed up at Grape Wall blog or agreed by email or in person to receive it. If you did not request it, but are receiving it, something has gone awry. You can unsubscribe at the bottom or let me know at grapewallofchina (at) gmail.com. Cheers, Jim Boyce