China – less wine, more fairs


If my Inbox is to be believed, there are few weeks in the year when there is no hopeful wine trade show in greater China, with Hong Kong and Shanghai hosting more of these events than anywhere else. Chinese versions of SIAL from Sopexa, ViniSud and Topwine have all been assayed without notable success. Vinexpo has long been plugging away at an Asian version and Prowein, the leading wine trade fair based in Düsseldorf, kicks off its second Chinese event in Shanghai tomorrow.

As for consumer events, the staff at Decanter magazine are particularly busy at the moment. Their major annual London Fine Wine Encounter is this weekend and then almost 20 of them will head east to prepare for their first-ever Fine Wine Encounter at the Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai. Chinese wine lovers prepared to pay 3888RMB (the equivalent of £400 or $634) may attend a masterclass hosted by the directors of all five first growths. Other heavy hitters being wheeled out include Angelo Gaja, Richard Geoffroy of Dom Pérignon, Peter Sisseck of Pingus, and Penfolds Grange. Whatever will they do for any second event?

A veteran of The Wine Industry Conference at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair reports that this year’s version, held at the end of last week, was meatier than it has usually been, even if the overall mood re the Chinese wine market was decidedly gloomy. Here’s a summary of the key points:

Paul Henry, ex Wine Australia

  – There may be a 3% shortfall in supply this year, but Australia’s surplus is 100 million cases – the world is awash with wine!

  – Annual global consumption is lower than in 2008

James Miles, Liv-ex

  – Fine wine returns 1900-2012 were 4.1% per annum overall

  – Fine wine in Hong Kong ‘fell off the cliff’ in 2012 and 2013

  – See his presentation including slides

Ian Ford, Summergate, wine importer into China

  – Austerity measures announced December 2012 led to real deceleration

  – Wine imports into China declined by 5.7% in first six months of 2014

  – 778 importers have dropped out of the business in China in last 12 months

  – Anti-corruption measures in China accelerated in early 2014

  – 182,000 government officials were punished for corruption in 2013

Yang Lu, head of wine for the Shangri-La hotel group

  – ‘The Chinese love to study’

  – Gerard Basset’s positive influence

  – WSET is one of the keys to preparing future sommeliers – knowledge is the key

Robert Joseph, UK-based wine commentator

  – WeChat is today’s most successful social media platform

  – We should give the Chinese the wine they like!