Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wine critic praises China’s passion


Robert Parker sees much to admire in the mainland industry, but talk also touches on image problems

“I think a lot of foreigners think only their wine is best. It’s pride and prejudice.

“In reality, they’ve all done bad things. In the 1990s, they exported a lot of substandard wine to China because they knew Chinese people would not know what was good.”

1 comment:

Guanyu 道 said...

Wine critic praises China’s passion

Robert Parker sees much to admire in the mainland industry, but talk also touches on image problems

Christy Choi
08 November 2011

Could China produce world-class wines to compete with the best from countries such as Argentina, Australia, Chile, France and Spain?

That remained to be seen, said Robert Parker, a man whose wine ratings can make the market move.

Despite that cautious assessment, he said there may be some “pretty special wines emerging from China”.

“I’ve never seen such a dramatic transformation of a country, their interest in wine. They’re incredibly fast to pick up things, to learn, to immerse themselves,” Parker said.

“The interest and passion is an important factor in quality and in wine education. That already exists and has existed for some time in China. That’s a good sign.”

The renowned US wine critic was speaking at Winefuture Hong Kong 2011, a gathering of respected figures in the wine industry being held at AsiaWorld-Expo until today.

They will be welcome words for Chinese winemakers, who struggle against a negative image rooted in nationwide food safety scandals and the mainland’s reputation for fake products.

Celia Hay, a wine educator with the New Zealand School of Food and Wine who is looking to teach wine classes on the mainland, said: “[The experts] were saying, since 2006, when the market was deregulated, that 20,000 wine importing companies have been set up. But there’s still a lot of fraud, smuggling ... and some companies are just focusing on sales; it’s just a commodity. For most of us in the industry, it’s a special beverage that needs some respect.

“It’ll take some time to educate the consumer to experiment and to trust Chinese wine. There are some good-quality wines, but some wines in China are overpriced. If the quality is good, than it’s fine to charge a high price, but often the quality is not good,” she said.

Professor Zhang Fuqing, a viticulture expert with Dynasty, a 30-year-old mainland winery, said, however, that the fake and substandard products “are just a part of development”.

“Other countries seem to forget their development also included these phases,” he said.

“I think a lot of foreigners think only their wine is best. It’s pride and prejudice.

“In reality, they’ve all done bad things. In the 1990s, they exported a lot of substandard wine to China because they knew Chinese people would not know what was good.”