Bordeaux, Burgundy, Ningxia: China Gets Serious About Certified ‘Estate Wine’

    China's alcohol authority takes a step toward boosting the image of Chinese wines with a new official quality trademark.
    Chateau Huadong-Parry in Qingdao. (Shutterstock)
    Liz FloraAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Château Huadong-Parry's vineyards in Qingdao. (Shutterstock)

    A “château-style” trademark stamp will now grace bottles of Chinese wines meeting a set of standards that qualify them as “Estate Wines,” a categorization recently adopted by China's alcohol authority which takes after those of other wine-producing countries.

    In an effort to boost the image of locally produced wineries as they compete with imports from France and Italy, the China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA) announced in a press conference on June 3 that it will begin issuing the certification to Chinese wines meeting its criteria. All Chinese wineries will have the opportunity to apply to have their vintages stamped with the trademark, which will hold the look of a “classic château,” according to China Daily. The word “château” itself will not appear on the label, however, because officials deem the term “too narrow” for China’s wineries.

    The conditions for a wine to fall under the estate wine designation are similar to those of other countries, but are not as strict as some European wine regulations. A winery must handle all grape-growing, winemaking, and bottling itself, as well as hold 100 percent ownership of the vineyards producing the grapes. In addition, grapes must be placed in fermentation tanks on the day in which they are harvested, and the winery needs to produce 70 metric tons of wine or more per year to qualify. China’s new estate wine guidelines reflect those of the United States, which require that grapes from all vineyards used to produce the wine must be controlled by the winery and can’t leave the property at any time during the winemaking process.

    Unlike European regional trademarks such as the Appellation d`Origine Controlee in France or the DOC and DOCG in Italy, this designation covers all wineries in China. "Europe has a much longer history of wine-making, which enables detailed classification and verification of origin," said Wang Zuming, the secretary general of CADA’s wine branch to China Daily.

    The supervisory body deciding on which wineries make the cut will consist of wine experts, media, and consumers. The association’s website will also have a portal where consumers can report any problems they find with wines holding the designation.

    China is expected to become the sixth-largest wine-producing country in the world by 2016, but Chinese wineries are struggling to build reputations of quality similar to those of the world’s major wine regions. This doesn’t mean they’re being completely ignored by global wine connoisseurs, however. Last year, Chinese wineries from major vineyard regions such as Ningxia and Shandong took home 20 prizes at the Decanter World Wine Awards. The CADA likely hopes that its new certification will add to the cachet of Chinese wine at home and abroad.

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