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Grape expectations from Argentina

By Zhou Siyu  (China Daily)

14:20, September 03, 2012

A horse-riding gaucho between vineyards in Mendoza, the winemaking area in the center of West Argentina that produces the majority of wine products in the country. Strong growth, huge potential and the ability to devour a large amount of premium wine are making China one of the most important export markets for wine suppliers across the world. (Photo/China Daily)

South American country foments a big wine export drive to China

A beginning should be as good as it is simple. That's what Antonio Mompo, manager for Wines of Argentina in Asia, the South American country's wine export organization, had in mind when he set out to promote Argentinian wine in China.

"Argentine wine has a simple and fresh taste, which is easy to drink and caters to the Chinese sweet palate," Mompo said. He believed this simple and pleasant mouthfeel can help the Chinese develop the habit of drinking wine.

Yet industry data seem to argue that the country has already become a confirmed wine drinker. A significant increase was seen in the country's wine supply over the past seven years: It surged from fewer than 400 million liters in 2004 to 1,400 million liters in 2011, according to a report by Rabobank.

In 2011 alone, bottled wine imports into China jumped by 65 percent from the previous year to 241 million liters, the strongest growth since the global financial recession in 2007/8, according to the report. Strong growth, huge potential and the ability to devour a large amount of premium wine make China one of the most important export markets for wine suppliers across the world.

France, among the foreign suppliers, continued to dominate China's wine market in 2011, growing volumes to more than three-and-a-half times that of Australia, its nearest runner-up, according to the Rabobank report.

Although there seems to be no one capable of challenging France in the Chinese market in the near future, competition among lesser rivals is still fierce. Being one of the newcomers, Argentine wine makers, currently the world's fifth largest producer by volume, are eager to try their fortunes in this bewilderingly complicated market as well.

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