With a burgeoning middle class, the Chinese have quickly developed a taste for fine wine. French and Italy for the last decade or so have made a lot of inroads into China and have a huge market to sell to.
As China develops their taste for wine, they have surely realized that it makes more sense to grow their own grapes and develop their own industry. Why import wine when they can simply do it themselves?
And they have started to do just that. Chinese wineries are growing all the time and now they seem poised to overtake their European competition. In this article, I will go over how different Chinese wine is from French to get an idea of the landscape in the wine world in China.
French wine in China
Many winemakers like Chateau Lafite and Moet Chandon have recognized that the Chinese wine connoisseurs have their own particular taste in wine. Though many appreciate classic French style, they prefer their wines bigger and fruitier than many French winemakers would make for the French market. And since the cuisine is different it makes sense that pairing wine with Chinese cuisine is made difficult if it isn’t to their taste.
Instead of changing over their production to suit this taste, they simply have moved some of their production into China. So, in a sense it’s still French wine, just grown with Chinese terroir. This is especially true for red wines. They are planting lots of hectares of cabernet sauvignon and merlot but in a much different style than how they would if it were produced in France.
Most notably, the wines are sweeter and much more fruit forward. They don’t like tannins in their wine to be too prominent and oak is not as pronounced in these wines made in China.
Ningxia the new Burgundy?
The most exclusive wine growing area in China is the Ningxia province. It is known to have some of the best conditions to grow wine as it is protected by the Helan Mountains with the Yellow River providing plenty of water for the arid soil.
It’s not just the French winemakers getting a foothold there. Chinese wineries have been operating there for almost 40 years and to great success. In fact, wine from this area is as expensive or more than many prized French vintages. The average price for a bottle is over $165.
Since it is known for its high end and luxury wine brands it also attracts a lot of wine tourists from all over China. Over 400,000 tourists visit the wineries per year.
Since the wines from this area are known to be soft on the palate and very easy to drink, it is known to be the best province for making wines according to the taste of the Chinese market. In fact, in a recent wine tasting competition, many of the Chinese wines beat out the imported French ones with the Chinese judges.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.