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Chinese wine consumer trends - my observation


#1

Hi all,

Just noticed a topic over on Decanter around the preferences for Chinese wine consumers:

In the survey they mentioned in the article it states that the preferences is towards slightly sweeter wines with lower tannins. With female consumers being tolerant to slightly higher sweetness with male consumers slightly happier with more tannins.

My observation - this is pretty much how everyone starts out when they get into wine

Just thinking back to when I first tried a few wines, I went down the slightly sweeter wines and those with lower tannins before my tastes moved more towards dry wines and happy with higher levels of tannin.

It will be interesting to see how this trend shifts over time as I have a feeling that wines will be tailored to the sweeter end initially then the market will probably mature into drier styles of wines. Thinking about the popularity of Liebfraumilch/Blue nun/Black Tower/Asti Spumante back in the 80s vs now, although I think the Chinese market taste might mature slightly quicker than in the UK.

I have tried a few Chinese wines, only a couple though, I found my initial taste of some a year or two back to be a bit rough and not quite there (think cheap rustic south of France table wine). The more recent Chinese wine was an improvement but I would still peg it at the same sort of level as a well made under £7 wine with the actual price being much higher.

I see that they are also many very high end Chinese wines which I guess the market over there currently supports - thinking about Penfolds wines in Australia, although the bubble with burst soon I think. I have no issue with Chinese wines, the quality is improving quite rapidly considering most old world wine regions have had many hundreds of years of development and knowledge of exactly what works on a commercial basis.

Interesting to see what everyone else thinks about the article/thoughts about Chinese wine etc.


#2

Mitch, I think you might be 20 years ahead of the curve: almost zero Chinese wine appears in the UK, and the Chinese domestic market isn’t (currently) attuned to wine. Having said that, I imagine the percentage will increase exponentially but with the the caveat that the commercial aim will be supplying the far east market first.

Wine doesn’t really match Chinese food in anyway, both in terms of flavour and the way everything is served at once. In addition, the economy is command led - and I cant see the Peoples Republic of China encouraging alcohol consumption.

I worked over in China a couple of years ago an brought back a couple of bottles of red ‘great wall’ - the most expensive wine I could find in a supermarket (around £17, perhaps a half days wages out there?). Back in the UK the first bottle was corked, full-on contamination. 2nd bottle is still in the garage.

Having said that, they will probably do it ‘Trojan Horse’ style by buying up the USA vineyards, ditto Europe.


#3

Whatever direction the Chinese “home” market takes it is nothing to the investment going into wineries both Chinese and foreign.
China is the sixth largest wine producer already and the 5th biggest consumer with an enormous vis a vis the population growth rate, people DBR have been there and expanding since 2008 the first release is expected this year ?
With that sort of input the quality will only rise so like it or not Chinese wines will be a force in the future.


#4

It will also be interesting to see where the main wine producing regions end up - the country is vast so I guess there might be multiple sites located with the same sort of terroir as found in the Rhone/Bordeaux/Burgundy etc. I know there are a few locations that some producers have started to invest in but I am sure there are going to be many other hidden areas that produce great wine in the future.

It will also be interesting to see if they try and simply go with a mirror image or copy of old world regions such as regions that produce ‘Bordeaux style’ blends, or go with more local/country specific grapes or styles as Argentine Malbec or Uruguayan Tannat as an example.


#5

Interesting article from the New Yorker, March 12, 2018, about a visit to one particular wine producing region in China.

Apparently in the development of this region, tourism is an important factor - a “wine route” is being promoted with the different wineries building fake French chateaux as their visitor centres, tasting rooms, etc. (I think this is an important factor in new wine regions - I saw this in Texas, not a well known wine region - the whole paraphernalia of visitor centres, “chateaux” etc)

The article also mentions that a high proportion of Chinese people have an intolerance to wine, they have a bad reaction to it as they lack an enzyme needed to absorb and process alcohol.


#6

I’ve had the marvellous pleasure of a masterclass with chateau moser based in china, sampling 7 cabernets including 1 white cabernet!

They were every bit as qualified as an old world version. Following the tasting i looked up their range at berry bros and you’re looking at £50 a bottle.

My guess is that this is wine aimed at the western market as we tend to explore and take a punt on new names, regions and have a curious palate vs the traditional chinese market of big name bordeaux and burgundy.

At the recent decanter event i also tried chinese sauvignon blanc and riesling which were both superb, very complex, smokey and akin to a muscular loire style.