China Thoughts

Friday, May 21, 2021

This week is about some wine news from China…

LADY PENGUIN:  Recently Chinese wine website, Vino Joy News, announced that China’s official drinks trade organisation, China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA), had appointed the most important wine influencer, Lady Penguin (real name Wang Shenghan), as the official ambassador for Chinese wine. Lady Penguin has several million followers on social media and is by far the greatest wine influencer in China.

CADA is hoping that her clout and massive influence will push Chinese wine drinkers to turn towards Chinese wine, to replace the exiled Australian wine which until the crippling penalties were (unjustly) applied had accounted for around 40% of all wine sales in China. They are taking this pivotal moment in China’s wine sales to hopefully stop the drastic decline in sales of Chinese wines in China. From 2014 to 2019 the production and sales of Chinese wine dropped by around 50% to 800 million litres in 2019, whilst at the same time wine consumption rose significantly as more and more people entered the “middle-class” and sought a more western lifestyle.  

It will be interesting to see if this outstanding wine influencer can persuade the Chinese drinkers to convert to the local (and often inferior) product, away from their imported wine predilection.

I suspect that at best this measure will slow or even stop the rate of decline of the Chinese wine industry, but will have only a small effect in regrowing an industry that has, until recently been more focused on building Châteaux and pumping out volume rather than quality. Over the last decade I have tried quite a number of Chinese wines, and whilst a few have been excellent, the vast majority have represented fairly poor quality for value compared to the imported wines available in the market.

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NEW SUPPLIERS:  The crippling and unjust tariffs imposed on Australian wine by China’s Communist Government are not only a bonanza for existing European winemakers (especially the French who had been usurped by Australia as the number one imported wine nation), but also a huge if somewhat belated opportunity for South American and South African winemakers, as they gear up to fill the void created by the loss of Australian wines which had been around 40% of wine sales in China.

It has been suggested by academics that China has started a process of disengaging in trade with stable democracies and instead engaging in trade with autocracies, which are significantly less likely to criticise China in any shape, manner or form. Thus, it is quite likely that over the next couple of years, we will see the Chinese importing more wine from Eastern European countries, South Africa and some South American countries, rather than massive increases in imports from European Union members such as Spain, Italy, etc.

None of this is any consolation to the battling Aussie wine industry. We just have to find new markets for our fabulous wines, and drink a smidge more ourselves to help out our winemakers.

Incidentally, the latest figures show that wine consumption in China fell in 2020 with their own wine production falling as well. Much of the fall was worn by their own wine industry and less by the imports.

Cheers! Have a great weekend and remember to #chooseaustralianwine and when possible support #emergingvarieties

This Week's Wine Review:

I have never been a big fan of Yarra Valley wines, preferring Pinot Noir from Tasmania and more recently those of the Adelaide Hills, likewise with Chardonnay, and now in particular those from Tumbarumba in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

My opinion of Yarra wines was significantly lifted when I came into contact with, Soumah Wines. Both their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are exemplary with two to three different single vineyard versions of each, where the difference from one vineyard to another is truly noticeable and appreciable. I especially love their best of vintage selection, the ‘Equilibro’ Chardonnay, which is sensational.  That is not to say that their other varietal wines aren’t excellent to exceptional, because they are, and it is one of these that I am talking about today.

Soumah Wines have been making a single vineyard Savagnin for many years under the “Savarro” moniker. Now, in usual style, they have taken this further by creating the SOUMAH WILD NO.1 SAVAGNIN – a solera blend of three vintages (from 2015 onwards) of their beautiful, Savagnin.  It is done so as to add complexity, intensity and depth to the resulting wine.

This is an exceptional wine with a really interesting bouquet centred around citrus characters but quite funky and very complex. It has a gorgeous palate with lashings of complicated flavours, great depth, intensity and gentle citrus acidity and a very attractive finish. A most complex and beguiling wine.

Have a great weekend and remember to enjoy #chooseaustralianwine and where possible #emergingvarieties

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