Season's greetings from China, where a flow of new brands, consumers and professionals keeps the scene fresh, where national distributors increasingly carry local labels, and where the pollution cleared in Beijing just in time for Santa to get through with the new Silver Heights wines for Christmas dinner (see photo above).
The past few months have been crazy due to work and the annual Maovember
drive. Then again, you're doing something wrong in China if you aren't insanely busy.
I've posted some photos and summaries below that give glimpses into the scene and I aim to have lots more in 2017.
As always, please pass this newsletter to others who might like it: they can sign up here
. I hope everyone has a favorite wine or two to drink on New Year's Eve!
Cheers, Jim Boyce
were true. Grace Vineyard
and ASC Fine Wines
, arguably the most significant winery and importer / distributor in China during the past 20 years, have partnered. The pair announced the news this week as Shanxi province-based Grace publicly ended its dozen-plus years of collaboration with Torres China
. More here
from Ningxia gets plenty of praise but one knock has been price, given its wines start at USD45. This week, distributor Torres released two less expensive wines under the label The Last Warrior, a nice option for newcomers to Chinese brands and venues seeking to offer local by-the-glass wine. More here
Duty calls! It’s been a good year for Australian wine imports, with the country solidifying its position behind France, and 2017 might be even better given the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement calls for a tariff cut next week. More here
Call it in Veronese veritas
: Simone Incontro
, Verona native and China bureau chief for VinItaly
, talks about retail realities and opportunities in Shanghai. More here
New Italian wine bar Vesuvio
recently held a tasting that covered a dozen regions, with brands from importers China Wines & Spirits
, East Meets West
. A look at the pros and cons, plus three favorite wines. More more
When Chilean shop La Cava de Laoma
opened in a remote corner of a huge Beijing retail / apartment complex over three years ago, few realized it would become a favorite stop for many. Sad news, then, that it has closed. More here
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust
(WSET) announced plans earlier this year to open its first international office, in Hong Kong, a sensible move given greater China is already its second-biggest market after the UK. More details
Veteran importer / distributor Paradox
has teamed with Inner Mongolia’s Hansen
on a Cabernet Sauvignon for sale in Carrefours throughout China. More here
wine brand Ao Yun
, made high in Yunnan's mountains, became the first Chinese label to trade on Liv-ex, with a six-bottle case going for £1,410 (rmb12,200) to £1,600 (rmb13,800). More here
China sent vines into space earlier this year and that should ultimately mean new wines for our planet, including everything from Gamaray and Beaujolais Nova to Ugniverse Blanc and ExtraTorrontestrial. More here
The Institute of Masters of Wine
recently announced 13 new members, including Fongyee Walker
, the first based in continental China, She wrote her research paper on vine burial in China. More here
Many wine regions are associated with a grape or style, like Mendoza with Malbec and Barossa with Shiraz. While Napa Valley is often linked with Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot from this region also shone at a Beijing tasting. More here
of Gansu winery Mogao
contrasted “old habits die hard” flood irrigation versus a modern drip system during a vineyard tour and talked about improvements he hoped to make before he retires. More here
Finally, here are two photos that symbolize the phenomenal growth of the Ningxia wine region. The first is from 2012, when seven winemakers from five continents helped launch a two-year project called Ningxia Winemakers Challenge that saw each make a wine with a similar set of equipment in a common facility and ultimately compete for USD30,000 in prizes:
The second is from the newest version of that contest. It started in 2015, involves pairing 48 winemakers from 18 countries with local wineries, and has more than USD100,000 in prizes. Some change!
By the way, if you want insights into one winemakers' experience, including his take on fruit used for the contest, regional differences found in a tasting of 100 local wines, and grapes that might work best in Ningxia, see this interview
with Brian Cheeseborough
That's it for 2016. I wish everyone a wonderful New Year's Eve. See you in 2017!
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