Riesling Revolution in China


The Chinese have been known for years as red-wine consumers, as underlined by the title of the recent, award-winning film Red Obsession. Recent research conducted on behalf of Vinexpo claims that 'China is now the largest red wine consuming nation on earth, consuming even more red wine than the French or Italians: an estimated 1.86 billion bottles, much of it produced domestically'.

But an initiative last week was designed to demonstrate to the Chinese just how delicious white wine can be, specifically Riesling. And a subsidiary demonstration was of commercial co-operation – not that common in China. One of the biggest wine importers and distributors, Summergate, has just organised a Riesling Revolution tour of China and it has been a huge success, apparently.

Peter Barry of Jim Barry Wines, Etienne Hugel of the Hugel family, and Erni Loosen of Dr Loosen Wines joined forces with Summergate to challenge the reign of red wine in China. All through the week, the group conducted tastings, masterclasses, and media events across the region to celebrate the greatness of Riesling in its many styles. They started in Macau, and moved on to Xiamen in Fujian province and Chengdu in Sichuan province, followed by gala events in Shanghai, and culminating in the capital city Beijing last Saturday 12 April. Our picture shows (left to right) Hugel, Loosen and Barry with their Chinese tour guide Chiara – plus Riesling tattoos.

'This is a breakthrough collaboration between producers and their distributor. I don't think it's ever been done before', said Peter Barry in Shanghai.

'We are championing Riesling as a spearhead of the white wine revolution in China. There is no better way to break China's red obsession than our Riesling Revolution tour with this trio of Riesling magicians', said Summergate's founder and general manager Ian Ford (no relation to Purple Pager Marcus Ford who runs the Summergate subsidiary Pudao Wines). Ian Ford says he expects their sales of Riesling to more than double as a result of the tour.

Étienne Hugel is an old hand who has been travelling around Asia promoting the perfect pairing of Riesling and certain Asian cuisines for almost three decades. 'This tour will bring awareness of the great qualities of Riesling to a whole new level', he commented. Erni Loosen was also enthusiastic about the response to the Riesling Revolution tour. 'We've had a great reception from all of the people we've met in China, and the interest in Riesling is much bigger than we even expected', he said. 'If you put Riesling in front of people, they love it. Simple as that!'

We can only concur.