Greetings from Beijing:
Spent a day driving around Ningxia with consultant Mike Gadd and talking about messy vineyards, excessive oak, the last three vintages, and more.
Met with winemaker Bruno Paumard of Inner Mongolia winery Hansen and tried 11 wines that he describes as a "new frontier" for the local trade.
And updated my argument that imported wine outsells local wine, despite a general belief it has about a 30 percent share. Falling local production, soaring imports and insights from friends in the field suggest it might now be double that.
Links and excerpts for those stories and more below.
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While many China wine watchers believe that imports have about a 30 percent share of the market, declining local wine production, soaring imports and the prospects of double-counting suggest it could be close to 60 percent.
Excerpt: "... the same wine might be counted multiple times. For example, consider a winery in Province A that makes and reports a million liters of wine. It then sells that wine as bulk to a winery in Province B, which uses it for blending and, in turn, also reports a million liters of production. In other words, one million liters becomes two million liters by the time it reaches the national spreadsheet."
for the story.
Australian winemaker Mike Gadd joined the last three harvests in Ningxia. I interview him about vintage differences, messy vineyards, and more.
Excerpt: "I think [Cabernet Gernischt] was going to be Ningxia’s grape because no one else had it and they thought it fit the terroir. But then you find it is kind of green and weedy and doesn’t taste good all the time. It’s like the cool climate craze in Australia, with planting Cabernet Sauvignon in places like Tasmania, or in Marlborough in New Zealand. I worked on it in Marlborough and it smelled like cooked cabbage. Ten years later, people look at these green wines and say, “What the fuck?” Everyone was trying to be the new world Bordeaux."
for the story.
(Note: Gadd was part of the two-year Ningxia Winemakers Challenge. See my Q&As with fellow competitors Justin Corrans
, Brian Cheeseborough
, Gianpaolo Paglia
, Nova Cadamatre
, Chris Sargeant
and Maria Isabel Tapia
in Inner Mongolia says he created a “new frontier” for Chinese wine. We put 11 of his wines to the test.
Excerpt: "Paumard is so confident about his most recent vintages that he says Hansen has established a “new frontier” for Chinese wines. He cites a focus on putting the fruit first, on making regional-specific wine and, crucially, on changing the mindset at the winery where he has worked for seven years. He says many Chinese winemakers come from universities that stress process above all, partly because they had few local wineries to serve as examples, especially in terms of quality."
for the story.
Someone's DRC doubled as a sorbet during the Chinese New Year holidays.
Excerpt: "Yes, wine can easily freeze during northern China’s harsh winters, as appears to be the case
with this Domaine de la Romanée-Conti aka DRC that costs about USD15,500 / RMB100,000 per bottle. That pretty much qualifies as the worst “ice” wine."
for the story.
CHINA'S 'OTHER' WINE
While Chinese grape wine gets far more global media coverage than baijiu, China's national spirit, its volume is tiny in contrast. Enough baijiu is consumed annually to fill a 160-liter bathtub for each of the UK's 65 million citizens. Enough that it would take one hour for it all to flow over Niagara Falls. Enough, well, click here
for more on the numbers, for additional examples, for a necessary humbling for anyone in China's wine industry.
MORE GRAPE WALL
| Three labels from Treaty Port
, the Shandong winery that doubles as a Scottish castle, have been listed in the UK by the Real Wine Company
| Two wines from one of China’s top operations, Kanaan
in Ningxia, are now available at retail chain Dan Murphy’s
| We see more good producers, sales often lag due to low visibility, high prices and poor distribution. My five wine picks for China Daily
, with a nod to brands with decent value and distribution.
| The most recent South African roadshow brought some tasty wine to Beijing. Spier's were my favorites.
Finally, the local wine trade got involved in the most recent Maovember
charity campaign, including nine importers at the third Mystery Wine Party
with a Win Your Weight in Wine
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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