A roundup of wine news coming out of China, from rising domestic production and an import slowdown to a new youth-focused soap opera aimed at the country’s middle-class and Louis-Fabrice Latour’s recent tastings in Shanghai.
Import Growth To Slow As Domestic Production Rises
Decanter writes this week that China will become the world’s second-biggest wine consumer by 2016, wine imports will slow, and the country’s already-high domestic production will increase quickly. Though the import market remains hot — growing 7.9 percent to 394.46 million liters in 2012 — and the market itself is expected to grow some 40 percent over the next four years, Vinexpo and the research group IWSR don’t expect China’s rising tide of plonk to lift all boats, telling the wine publication that opportunities for imported winemakers will be increasingly contentious and limited. What Vinexpo and IWSR do expect to see is the end of unsustainably high sales growth — wine sales rose 144 percent between 2007 and the end of 2011 — and booming domestic production. By 2016, China is expected to become the world’s sixth-largest producer of wine, surpassing Australia and Chile, up from 10th in 2007 and eighth currently. Via Decanter:
‘It will be more challenging, and especially for France [market leader], because everybody wants to go there now,’ Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, told Decanter.com.
However, de Eizaguirre said the speed of growth in China remains ‘incredible’ compared to many other markets, and its per capita consumption is still only 1.6 litres a year.
‘China will bypass the US very soon,’ he said. ‘The forecast for 2016 is 250m cases. The US is about 350m, so they’re getting very close.’
In value terms, China should overtake the UK to become the world’s second biggest wine consuming nation by value in 2016, with sales of US$16.7bn.
Scent of Beauty, Aimed At Middle-Class, Set To Hit Chinese TV
Coming three years after Bordeaux featured heavily in the Chinese drama Eternal Moment, and long after the wine-inspired Japanese manga “Drops of God” and American film Sideways, a new Chinese soap opera aimed at the aspirational middle-class, Scent of Beauty, is set to hit TV screens. Currently filming in Shenzhen, the show centers around young cosmopolitan wine drinkers, and apparently the producers are sparing no expense training the show’s wine newbie actors.
Chinese-language media noted that several of the cast members had never tasted wine, and started at the most basic level of training to learn about different wine-producing countries and regions. According to a droll mention in Wine-China, “some of [the actors] said they pretty (sic) enjoyed doing it.”
Keep An Eye On Burgundy This Year In China
Leaving his cozy home base in London, Louis-Fabrice Latour — seventh-generation of famed Burgundy producer Louis Latour — is currently running an annual grand cru tasting in Shanghai’s Waldorf Astoria. For the tasting, Latour is introducing local wine drinkers to vintages of Louis Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles, Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru Les Quatre Journaux and Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvée Héritiers Latour. Via the drinks business:
Exports from Burgundy to China increased 20-25% last year, which is bound to attract more producers and merchants into the Burgundian wine business. In fact, Louis-Fabrice has been visiting China for around 15 years, way before other Europeans lay eyes on Chinese market.
As well as holding the largest grand cru property in the Cote d’Or and the exclusive membership of Hénokiens club, Louis Latour has gradually built up a reputation for tradition and innovation among Chinese wine lovers.
When asked about mid-term plan in the coming years at the press interview after the tasting, Louis-Fabrice expressed two strong expectations. He wants to see more Chinese start appreciating white Burgundy with more attention diverted from grand cru alone to premier cru, village appellation as well as generic white Burgundy.