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Vinexpo: Decanter World Wine Awards visitors go for classic reds

Visitors to the Decanter World Wine Awards tasting at Vinexpo Hong Kong are confirming which wine styles the Chinese prefer.

The tasting – which marks the Decanter World Wine Awards’ first appearance in Asia – features 76 wines from dozens of different wine regions and is open to all Vinexpo visitors.

The majority are from mainland China, followed by Hong Kong, with a smattering from Indonesia, Japan and India. Many of the mainland Chinese are from smaller cities in the southern provinces, one of the biggest growth area for well-established importers like Summergate and ASC.

Decanter’s stand has been visited by buyers, consumers, sommeliers and all types of wine professional. Many who come to taste are novices, albeit they are in the wine trade.

While they gravitate towards wines like St Estephe’s Chateau le Crock 2005 because of the instantly recognizable vintage, they are also interested in wines such as the two Gold-medal Rheigau beerenausleses, the Schloss Schonborn 2007 and 2005, both at under 8% alcohol.

Yesterday Robert Shen, proprietor of the Aussino chain of 200 wine stores in mainland China, had noted that German spatlese and eiswein are the fifth most popular categories in his shops after Bordeaux, Australia, Chile and Italy.

On the stand, Paul Kwang sand Junpeng Jian of importer ASC said that the two Rheingaus were the ‘surprises’ of the tasting for them.

Gemini Yip of Hong Kong’s Crystal Café agreed that the German Rieslings were delicious, but doubted they would find traction in mainland China.

‘Outside top Bordeaux, no one is interested in anything else. At the moment red wine is very popular.’

This is confirmed over and over again: the Chinese want red wine, and they want it strong. There has also been a good deal of interest in the ten Italian red wines in the tasting – especially the splendid Roncolato Amarone della Valpolicella, the Red Veneto Regional Trophy at the DWWA this year.

Another taster, Min Lv of the Hotel of Modern Art (the first Chinese member of the Relais et Chateaux group) in Guilin province in southeast China, was impressed by the Cantina Novelli Montefalco Sagrantino from Umbria, but she baulked at the beerenausleses.

In common with the majority of Chinese drinkers she ‘prefers to have higher alcohol’.

Other wines to attract attention were the roses, particularly the Japanese Katsunuma Jyozo, Yamanashi 2009, and the Juve & Camps Cava 2008. Rose is not considered a ‘serious’ wine in China, and has no real market at present.

Kwang said ASC already lists Rauzan Segla, but was very impressed by the Marquis d’Alesme 2007, which he ‘might list’.

There has been huge demand in Decanter at this year’s Vinexpo: the stand has sold out of its entire stock of Decanter magazines and back issues, as well as running out, on day one, of the 1000 samples of decanter.com’s simple script Chinese translation of its Bordeaux 2009 coverage.

Written by Adam Lechmere in Hong Kong

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