China Syndrome affecting the world wine industry
With a population of 1.3 billion it's not hard to see how China has become the worlds fifth largest consumer of wines. Great news for the Bordeaux's of the world who have been riding high on this
popularity with total exports of French wine reaching a record $7.7 billion last year. But have no fear there isn't likely to be a shortage of these wines as China now has more hectares of vineyards than the US and is set to become the biggest wine producer in the world within 5 years. It's thought the majority of wine China will drink in the long run will be made in China. So unless you're in the market for super-premium or collectible bottles where the Chinese do dominate - you'll be OK.
So will the West be drinking Chinese wines?
A couple of regions are showing promise such as the northern province Ningxia. The He Lan Qing Xue winery's Jia Bei Lan 2009 Cabernet blend
famously beat a host of French rivals in 2011 to collect an international gold medal. Indeed Jancis Robinson named the wine as one of the two most promising she had tasted on a trip to the region. Another small winery, Grace Vineyards, located in China's central Shaanxi province is also attracting international awards and critical attention, coming from an area of China which is better known for its coal production than its wine making.
But wine producers outside China can breathe a sigh of relief for the time being, as China has a shortage of quality wine grapes, explains Jim Boyce, a Beijing-based wine aficionado who writes the blog, Grape Wall of China. And this means that a lot of Chinese wine contains low-end grapes that aren't sweet enough to produce interesting wine flavours. Most of the wine produced here is very thin, dry and tannic, Jim explains. So, it's just not very good quality.