Wine in China: In the current Chinese wine market, consumers can be roughly divided into two groups, one chooses wines according to the price, while the other group picks wines according to the brand, the more famous the better. What’s your opinion about how to guide Chinese wine consumers?
Jancis Robinson: Undoubtedly, the answer is education, which will tell consumers the complexity, the concentrated aromas of wines. I think the most important thing is that there are professionals who can keep in direct contact with consumers, that’s also your job as a wine medium.
With the rise of wine consumption in china, more and more Chinese consumers are drinking local wines. Also, I noted that in recent five years, more and more Chinese buyers are buying wines in Europe, with some even investing in wineries, this is something that has never happened before. Compared with other countries, China is obviously a country mainly consuming red wines, this has its historical reason.
Wine in China: Talking about red wine consumption, I just interviewed the Executive Director of Vinexpo in Hong Kong, Robert Beynat, he said that in a few years to come, red wine consumption will rise significantly, what’s your opinion about it?
Jancis Robinson: According to the statistics from France alone, he might be right. However, I think the international trend can be quite the opposite, the consumption of white wines has seen a remarkable increase. Multiple factors have contributed to this phenomenon- white wines tastes fresher, can be paired with almost all kinds of food. Nowadays, in America and Britain, consumers are also looking for more easy-drinking dry red and rosé, in the same time, showing more favor towards white wines. Admittedly, in the me almost 40-year professional carreer, white wines was very popular during the 70s and 80s, interwoven with the popularity of red wines.
Wine in China: From 2003 to 2008, you have tasted some wines and also have visited some Chinese wine regions, including Shandong, Hebei, Shanxi, etc. What’s your opinion toward the Chinese wine industry?
Jancis Robinson: There is one thing that has surprised me about the local wine industry of China: why in a country with vast land, and diverse terroirs, almost only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot planted, this is really not uninspiring. Besides, these two varieties are similar and Cabernet Sauvignon is not easy to plant. If I have any advice about the Chinese wine industry, I think maybe they should try some white varieties as I know that a lot of Chinese consumers prefer simple and fresh wines without the astringency from tannin. In addition, white wines are easier to match with Chinese dishes. For red varieties, maybe Syrah is a good choice. But this is a very limited suggestion since you have to take into account the soils, climate, humidity and temperature related with agriculture. You have your professional wine educators and agriculturists, if these professors can communicate with the wineries or local governments, it would have a huge influence on the future wine industry in China.