Blog: Chris MercerVinisud 2012 - An emerging concern about wine in China

Chris Mercer | 21 February 2012

Here's the thing about China: is anyone actually drinking the wine? 

I'm here in Montpellier at Vinisud 2012 and the eary morning sky is full of promise for the day ahead. You can probably see where I'm going with this; yes, it's just like wine sales in China. 

No one doubts that China's wine market is going to grow. Per capita consumption is still less than one litre. Meanwhile, most of the world's big wine producer nations are reporting strong export growth to the country.

But, from conversations I've had with people in some of those producer nations, I'm hearing more and more concern about what's actually happening in China. There is a suspicion that a lot of bottled wine is fetching a high price but is, in the end, providing ornamental value on the mantelpiece rather than enjoyment at the dinner table.

This fits with the Chinese penchant for French wines with old labels, preferably with the word 'chateau' plastered across the front. Status and Western memorabilia are big in China. At Vinisud, as at the Australia Day tasting I attended recently, the message is increasingly that vintners should approach China with caution, despite its exciting prospects. 

Back here in Montpellier, last night was a bit special for me. I've wanted to attend the Michelin-starred 'le jardin des sens' here for some time and, finally, I have achieved it, thanks largely to Vignobles Foncalieu, who are kindly paying for my trip and subsistence while here. The food really is exquisite. If you're down this way, just go. 


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