New World vs Old World, unsung heroes in China wine, 25 labels that evoke Penfolds, 'tier 1' city trends, China's struggling wine market. If you know others who would like the newsletter, please pass it on.
Greetings from Beijing,

Where the sweatiest part of the summer is done even if the market is still feeling the heat.

This issue features ten 'unsung heroes' of wine in China, 25 labels you might confuse with Penfolds (Penfriends, anyone?), and wine trends in 'tier 1' cities.

It also includes three entries about the faltering wine scene: one on the first six months of import stats, a second on the reversing roles of Old World and New World producers, a third with a market overview.

As always, content takes time and money. If you find this newsletter useful, please donate via Paypal or WeChat--someone actually did so last time, a first!--to help offset hosting, domain name and other costs

Cheers, Jim
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Unsung Heroes

Lists of "who's who" in China wine tend to repeat the same names. So I wrote about ten lesser-known people who deserve a shout out. They range in profession from winemaker to distributor to academic, and are found throughout China: Ma Huiqin, Julien Boulard, Zhou Shuzhen, Tersina Shieh, Zhang Yanzhi, Alberto Pascual, Jim Sun, Zhao Desheng, Chen Shu and Lee Yean Yean. More here. This story first appeared in Meininger's Wine Business International.

New World vs Old World

Once upon a time, Old World wines dominated the China market. The trio of France, Spain and Italy had more than a 60% share, far ahead of New World counterparts Australia, Chile and the U.S.

Last night, I had insomnia so I crunched some wine stats from the past decade. Every two years from 2010 to 2018 plus the first-half of 2019. They show how the New World trio has flipped the script. More here.

Penfolds, Schmenfolds

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Penfolds ranks among the most admired brands in China. Here are 25 labels that evoke the Penfolds font, colour, style and name, from Penfriends to Panfield. To be sure, there are many more out there.
Wine in First-tier Cities

Wine diversity is spreading in ‘tier 1’ cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The number of connoisseurs might pale versus those buying mass market and status-oriented brands, but is a bright spot in a struggling market. This Wine Business International piece includes comments from Matt Bahen (De Bortoli), Charles Carrard (Boisset), Yiftach Bar (Diva China), Isabella Ko (The Merchants), Alex Chen (Alexander Wine), Oliver Zhou (KOL), Claudia Masueger (CHEERS) and David Schaumann (CHEERS).
China's 'Rocky Road'

"We saw another boom for five years. Now things are getting tough and casualties are high." Alberto Fernandez, managing partner of importer and distributor Torres China, is not optimistic about the China market for the next year. A look at what's happening, including insights from Carlos Miranda (Foshan Good Wine Trading) and Helene Ponty (Ponty Wines). An article I wrote for Wine Searcher.
Ouch! First Six Months

The wine import stats this year ain't pretty--and that's on top of an ugly 2018. Five key points about the first six months, including new leaders for volume (Chile) and value (Australia) as the relationship between China and France, and notably Bordeaux, feels shaky: you might say they are sleeping in separate beds.
Note: This newsletter content 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. Cheers, Jim Boyce
28 August 2019
Grape Wall covers China's wine scene. Winery visits, tastings, news, reviews and interviews .Since 2007. Administered by Jim Boyce. Get the newsletter here.
E-mail: grapewallofchina (at)
Fun, fake, odd, old
Check out my new page of curious wine labels seen in China. From Marx to Lafite, from the head-scratching to the historical.
World Marselan Day
Grape Wall launched this project on April 27 to honor the grape's creator, Paul Truel, and shine a light on a variety found in dozens of nations and across China.
Wine Word

 Check Grape Wall's Q&A sessions with wine people inside and outside China.
Back issues

Issue 48
China tariffs on US wine, Lafite in Shandong, Domaine Franco-Chinois

Issue 47
Australia's China success, World Marselan Day, bulk wine, fake wine

Issue 46
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 45
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 45
Can a Chinese Penfolds help Ningxia?  Plus new regional wine angles.

Issue 44
China's tariff on US wine, 19th-century wine dinner, ten Ningxia wineries, top summer posts
Issue 43

TWE teams with baijiu giant, wacky China wine labels, Changyu-Moser XV turns five, experts split over faulty wine
Issue 42
Building a family brand in China, Grace's IPO, Rawson's Retreat advances, Simone Incontro
Issue 41
Paul Truel & World Marselan Day, Ningxia's secret weapon, Amethyard's dope wine
Issue 40
10 takes on China's wine tariff, Penfolds' dodgy competitors, state booze picks
Issue 39
Imports top local brands, Bruno Paumard's new wines, Mike Gadd on Ningxia
Issue 38
South African leads 15 medalists at Ningxia Winemakers Challenge
Events. When we put down our wine and organize stuff.

Grape Wall Challenge
Chinese consumers judge in this annual blind tasting.

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

China Wine Tour
Four bars, a red and white wine at each. More here.
North by Northwest
Wine experts, chefs and journalists try Chinese wine. See here for the results.

Ningxia vs Bordeaux
Five wines from each region blind-tasted by ten experts. The results were a bit controversial. Details here
World Baijiu Day
I started this project in 2015 so more people could try China's national booze, a grain-based spirit with 20 billion bottles sold per year. Dozens of cities host events each August 9. See here.
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