June 26, 2020

We have all heard of how the Chinese Government is “punishing” Australia because we had the temerity to ask the WHO (World Health Organisation) to conduct an enquiry into the origins of Covid-19. They have taxed our barley, banned meat from four of our largest abattoirs, warned their people against studying in Australia because of “racism” and now according to a recent article in Vino Joy News  (well worth a read) they are pushing hard for Chinese wine consumers to drink only Chinese wine.

There is a degree of push-back from Chinese students studying in Australia, as well as from those who have previously studied, saying that we are not racists and that it is safe to study here. Sure, there will be a few Chinese people who will be vilified or mugged, just like there are a few hundred “Gweilos” (slang for white people) assaulted in China each year. Neither figures are statistically relevant, unlike those of what China is shamefully doing to its own Uighur population.

The importance of this aspect of the bullying is that the Asian students often become the greatest ambassadors for Australian wine in China and right across Asia. They become exposed/introduced to Aussie wine here (especially if they are studying in Adelaide) and most end up liking it and spruik when they go back home.

This, together with the reasons outlined in the above-mentioned article, are why their anti-foreign wine rhetoric will fail to achieve the bully-boys objectives. I have tasted a reasonable number of Chinese wines over the last few years (especially at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair) and there are some excellent wines from some of the boutique wineries. BUT, the vast majority of their wine is produced by huge wine companies such as, Changyu, and have a ways to go yet, to come up to the average standard of the international wines being imported into China, be they ours or the French, the Chileans, etc.

Therefore China, like Australia before it, will rely on imported wines until the local wines come up to scratch (like ours did between the 1970s-1980s) and then the majority of consumption will switch to the local wine. However, there will still be considerable room for quality/value imported wines. This will be especially true if the Chinese middle-class continues to grow as it has done in recent times, because right across Asia as people join the middle-class, they usually seek/desire some of the western lifestyle trimmings such as a good car, western style food and wine to go with it.

All of these communist government measures smack of guilty, bully-boy tactics, the sort that are used by those who have something to hide and want to punish anybody who has the temerity to question them or their motives, so as to shift the focus away from the issue. The more they jump up and down and pursue this inane vendetta, the guiltier they look.

Because China is being such a bully towards us, maybe we should consider boycotting companies like Huawei, Great Wall, etc., and ask the Federal Government to stop Chinese companies from buying Australian companies and property? Oh, and say put a tax on our high grade coal that they buy.

NO, because we shouldn’t get into a tit for tat with them like Trump did. We should instead start focusing on other potential markets for our products (across the board – after all, the whole world needs feeding, etc.) so as to reduce our reliance on China and the prospects of being bullied further. Our friends in Georgia know this all too well, when in 2006 and then again in 2013 the Russian bully banned the importation of all their products. The first time wine sales to Russia had accounted for 85% of Georgia’s wine exports. The second time thanks to diversification they were 65%. Whereas today I would wager that they are below 50% as the Georgians with excellent help from their government broadened their customer base to include China, Western Europe, Indonesia and even Australia.

So as I have been saying for quite a while, which other markets in Asia will you consider before things (possibly) get worse with the Chinese Government? As the ad on TV used to say: “Please consider”!

Have a great week and enjoy top quality wine!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about a rare German white grape variety called SCHEUREBE.  It was created during the First World War by Dr Georg Schue by crossing Riesling with a mysterious (records were lost) other white variety. The aim was to create better cold tolerance than Riesling so as to be able to extend vineyard plantings further down and out from the sunlight slopes where all their vineyards were planted.

Today, there are about 1,500 hectares planted in Germany, mainly making dry blended wines and a lesser amount of “stickies”. The only other significant patch being in Austria, in the Neusiedlersee region where it makes smashing sweet wines, both with and without botrytis.

Today in Australia there is only one producer of SCHEUREBE so far, that is, Wills Domain in Margaret River, Western Australia.

WILLS DOMAIN MARGARET RIVER CUVÉE D’ELEVAGE BLANC DE BLANC: Wow, what an exciting and sophisticated sparkling wine! It has complex aromas of citrus, passionfruit, fresh grass and pineapple with a hint of confectionery. Great mousse, light and bright lemons on the front palate and pineapple and passionfruit on the superb finish. Excellent!


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