The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2010

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FROM THE EDITOR The Giant Is Awake S I am here to judge the first ever China Wine Challenge, a well-organized blind tasting of locally-available wines. Although there are some western palates involved—Steven Spurrier and Michel Bettane are here—most of the judges are Chinese: wine journalists, educators and sommeliers. What most impressed me is the tasting ability and the depth of knowledge of the young Chinese tasters. Wine is relatively new to China, and only about 7% of the population drinks wine, but that amounts to more than 100 million people, about twice the size of France. The market is only going to grow . . . and quickly. What I am seeing here looks a lot like the U.S. in 1975. Among the 249 wines entered in the competition, there were a few creditable bottles made in China plus a good selection of European offerings. Chile was well-represented, and there were lots of wines from New Zealand. The U.S. wines entered were a mixed bag. Some were good, but a few appeared to be flawed wines being dumped on a naïve market. That is not cool. To make a lasting impression on a new market you need to lead with your best stuff, not your worst. In general, the U.S. entry was decent but neither impressive nor sizable. American vintners need to pay attention. China has the potential to become the world’s biggest wine market. Now is the time, when it’s in its infancy, to make your move. China is no longer a sleeping giant; it’s awake and getting bigger every day. Maybe it’s U.S. marketers who need to wake up. HANGHAI, July 2010 – A recent report that China has become the world’s leading market for Bordeaux wines, surpassing the U.S., came as a shock. That is probably because I—like most Americans—live in a protected bubble, dictated by our geographic isolation. Even though we may have heard mention of China’s growing economic power, most of us still imagine this country as a charm- ingly backward agrarian society. Wrong. Shanghai, a dynamic city of more than 21 million inhabitants, is modern—more modern than any U.S. city. In fact, next to New York or Chicago, Shanghai looks like Futureworld. / the tasting panel / august 2010 PHOTO: CATHY TWIGG-BLUMEL

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