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Tastes maturing, but French wine still dominant

By Xiao Xiangyi (China Daily)

08:23, April 26, 2013

China is a top importer of Bordeaux wine, a trend that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. (China Daily)

French vintages, with their graceful taste and glamorous history, have long been a top preference for Chinese buyers.

But the other day at the luxurious Temple Restaurant in Beijing, wine lovers with the most discerning palates fell into a sudden quietness as bottles of premier wines from Napa Valley in the US were uncorked.

They were apparently stunned, and later claimed the day should have come before, when wine from the world's other appellations - big or small, old or new - alleviated their exclusive obsession with French wine.

"It takes a great deal of patience in this market because it's predominantly French.

"They came here much earlier but they are not necessarily the best," said Jay Schuppert, owner of Cuvaison Estate Wines in Napa Valley.

"We are bringing our wine to China to give greater exposure to what the qualities are."

Bordeaux is larger than Napa Valley, which means appellations like Napa cannot produce as much.

"So we are not looking for big growth, but for proper growth in a proper market, not only in the top hotels and restaurants, but also Chinese consumers.

"Chinese market is too important to be neglected," he said.

Wines from Australia and New Zealand are now trendy for buyers at YesMyWine, the largest online platform in China for merchants to sell imported wines.

"It had more than 20 percent of our 2012 sales volume, which is a big surge from the previous year," said Liu Jun, the site's CEO.

"Many consumers are willing to buy a bottle or two of New World wines out of curiosity rather than a routine choice due to brand loyalty," said Liu.

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