“Quality Gap Is Still Significant” Between Chinese And Imported Wine
In recent days there has been controversy over the fact that parts of areas known for being habitats of the giant panda in Sichuan and
Shaanxi are in the process of being developed into vineyards. “Unless pandas can switch from bamboo to grapes, there are some hard times to come,” commented Shanghaiist.
However, according to the South China Morning Post article that reported on the issue and interviewed several China wine experts, these areas may not even be good for producing high-quality wine in the first place.
“Grapes planted in the wrong place by the wrong people can produce only the wrong type of wine with the wrong taste,” said Shenzhen businessman and wine connoisseur Peng Weijian when discussing the areas in question. The article goes on to quote him discussing the reasons he does not have high hopes for the wine that would be produced from vineyards in these areas.
Businessman Peng said his biggest concern was that Sichuan and Shaanxi would follow in the footsteps of Hebei and Shandong, where massive vineyards were hastily created with little concern for the final product.
“For Chinese wines, there is too much quantity but too little quality,” he said.
“I’ve always dreamed of a good wine from my own country, but I am always disappointed.”
The article also features a quote from a professor at a Chinese oenology college who stated that although some areas in Sichuan and Shaanxi may be suitable for growing grapes, the climate alone does not automatically allow for the production of high-quality wine.
Professor Liu Yanlin, with the College of Oenology at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, said that in Sichuan and Shaanxi there were indeed some small areas that resemble the Rhone river valley in France and Tuscany in Italy, where the days are warm and nights are cool, with dry conditions and sufficient sunshine.
But wine recently produced from these regions did not taste as good as she had expected.
“Compared with the best [wine] produced overseas, the quality gap is still significant,” she said, adding: “I don’t think the vineyards will have an immediate impact on the giant pandas, but the issue will need some serious research.”
China currently holds the world’s fastest rate of growth for wine consumption, which is expected to have increased by 39 percent by 2016, and is the top importer of Bordeaux. Although a great deal of wine is imported, most wine consumed in China is actually domestically produced. In addition to recent efforts to increase domestic production, Chinese wine companies have been buying distressed foreign wineries to produce wine under their names.
As demand for wine increases and expands in China, it remains to be seen if many domestic brands will be able to find suitable areas inside or outside of China for growing high-quality grapes, and if they will be able to reach a level of prestige on par with that of foreign wines.