Dan's Blog


Friday, September 28, 2018

This week covers just a small snippet of what is going on with wine in the world’s most populated country. As China continues to grow and expand as a wine drinking nation, we need to stay fully aware of what is going on there and its potential impact on the Australian wine industry.

BEER:  Like in most western countries, beer sales in America have been gradually declining since the turn of the century and more significantly beer drinkers have been switching from mainstream big brand beers to boutique breweries and craft beers.

It has just been announced that China now drinks more of the iconic American beer Budweiser than what the USA does. Slowly but surely the Chinese are taking over everything from the Americas.

STUDYING HARD:  There is a rapidly increasing number of Chinese students studying in Adelaide these days. Now the clever people at Tucker Creative, in conjunction with Adelaide University, have started a “Brand Ambassador’s Program”. Overseas wine students are taken on an exclusive tour and personalised Masterclass at a participating winery so that through their enthusiasm they effectively become brand ambassadors for that winery. At the same time the winery gains an understanding of Chinese social media, especially “WeChat” and its impact in the Chinese market.

Tucker Creative Business Manager, Peter Jackson, said: “the opportunity is there as many of these students when graduating will enter the (wine) business world looking for new ideas and brands to grow their wine business – many family run".

The Brand Ambassadors have all been invited to follow-up tastings and events at the winery, along with a tasting in Hong Kong in November.

Clever longer-term marketing.

ICEWINE:  The area near Tonghua City in the Province of Jilin, in China’s northeast is starting to focus on producing icewine. The government of Ji’an has over the last few years encouraged the development, production and research into making icewine.

To date there are some 330 hectares of vineyards set up specifically for the production of icewine, which is wine produced from frozen grapes. This process significantly reduces the amount of water from the grape juice that ends up in the finished wine. The yields are dramatically lower than that of producing normal wine. At the latest figures the production here had reached 500 tonnes. So one day we may be drinking Chinese icewine with our dessert in our local Chinese restaurant – but probably not in my lifetime.

ONLINE:  In terms of the sales of alcoholic beverages online, China has become ‘Numero uno’. According to Chinese figures, the roughly 800 million internet users bought just over AUD8.1 billion worth of booze on line in the last 12 months. This turnover is roughly four times what the US alcohol industry does.

Much like the Australian scene which is severely concentrated on Woollies and Coles, the Chinese online scene is dominated by Tmall and JDcom, which between them account for over 70% of the online alcohol market. At present these two companies’ combined sell around three times as much alcohol online as what the whole US alcohol industry does.

While there are currently no statistics available to show what proportion of the figure is wine, it is generally felt that the Baiju (the Chinese rice spirit) represents the largest portion, followed by beer and then wine before other (western) spirits. As China’s thirst for wine continues to grow, the proportion of wine sales online will continue to rise and rise quite dramatically as it is the younger people who are buying online and also the younger people who are turning to wine.

Despite the lack of stats, it is no wonder that Wine Australia signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Chinese internet big-hitter, Alibaba. Again no firm details are available but we are led to believe that the agreement will include a series of “pop up” wine stores selling only Australian wines. Not that we are slow, but Georgia signed a deal nearly three years ago with China for 800 wine stores selling Georgian wine exclusively. A great effort considering that Georgia produces roughly about as much wine as what Victoria does. 

Cheers and have a great week enjoying great quality wines!


For the last seven years I have been writing articles for WBM on emerging varieties. The current one I am working on is about sparkling wines made from emerging varieties.

For each of these articles, I approach wineries and ask if they would be so kind as to send a sample so that I can conduct a tasting in order to make the article more in-depth and meaningful.

For this article I received a goodly number of emerging sparkling wines, including two Durif from ANDERSON WINERY in Rutherglen, which were absolutely sensational.

I first fell in love with Durif in the late 1980s when working for Orlando (then owners of Morris of Rutherglen). The wines of Mick and then David Morris totally seduced my palate. I was in seventh heaven in the mid-1990s when Morris released its Sparkling Shiraz Durif. It was awesome and came very close to nudging Seppelt Great Western Sparkling Burgundy out as my favourite sparkling red.

Since then I have found one or two stunning sparkling reds such as the 2006 Hartzbarn Sparkling Lagrein, but not many.

Well, the other day I added another to the list of “most brilliantest Sparkling Reds” the ANDERSON SPARKLING DURIF. They kindly sent a sample of their 2011 and 2006. OMG! Both brilliant wines. The 2011 at seven-years-old has the most gorgeous dark, inky colour, a vibrant effervescent mousse with a fine bead, soft interesting Durif aromas and a big, rich, smooth mouthful of delicious flavours with a tight, drying finish. BIG, CLASSY & SUPERB!

The ANDERSON 2006 was even better than the 2011 as it had rounded out a bit more on the finish. It started with almost pitch black, so deep in colour, with deep, dense, complex bottle maturation aromas and a silky smooth sophisticated palate that is big and delicious. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! The best Sparkling red I have tasted since the Seppelts 1954 Sparkling Burgundy I enjoyed back in 2004.

If you have a chance grab hold of a bottle (or more) of either of these two stunning wines and like me, you will be in vinous heaven.

I salute the team at ANDERSON WINERY for creating such brilliant wine. Thank you guys!