"Big is Beautiful"
When it comes to taste preferences, for the 20 million Chinese people who drink wine at least occasionally, these are widely fixed: It has to be "Ganhong", a dry red, and preferably from Bordeaux or Burgundy! For wine growers from Bordeaux, China is now the most important export market, even ahead of Great Britain and Germany. In the Chinese import statistics, French wines, which have a market share of almost 50%, are followed by Spain, Australia, Chile and Italy. Only one out of ten bottles, which is consumed in China, contains white wine - not very favourable for the German producers. However, a possible almost 200 million further Chinese people, who can regularly afford to enjoy wine, shows potential. And: In 2011, the People's Republic became the most important export destination in Asia, according to the Deutsches Weininstitut (DWI) [German Wine Institute], even ahead of the longstanding market leader - Japan. 40,000 hectolitres of the German grape juice went to China - still 15% more than in the previous year.
With all the enthusiasm about posh labels with melodious Chateau names from Europe: More than 80% of wine consumption in China still comes from native plants. Thereby, the slogan "Big is beautiful" also applies here. Indeed, there are around 900 wineries spread all over the country, but the three largest – ChangYu, Great Wall/COFCO and Dynasty – share around half of the domestic market. According to the professor of oenology and wine growing, Li Demei from Beijing, the Dragon Seal brand is responsible for almost a third of Chinese wine export.
Li is not only perhaps the best connoisseur of the Chinese wine market (and is therefore the key note speaker at the International Wine Business Conference by the publishing company Meininger Verlag, on the day before ProWein 2013 in Düsseldorf) – he also travels all over the country as the "Flying Winemaker", and is also involved in the promotion of the renowned vineyard Grace Vineyards, in the province of Shanxi, 550 kilometres south west of Beijing. There, the industrialist and wine lover Chun Keung Chan fulfilled a dream in 1997 by setting up an 80 hectare model operation equipped with state of the art technology. The premium wine of the house "Chairman's Reserve", created according to a French model, can be found in any Chinese luxury hotel; in Germany it is offered for a respectable €34.