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What can we learn about marketing wine from the Chinese?

2012 May 23

A few years ago, if I suggested that China would be a major player in the wine industry, you would have thought I was hitting my cellar a bit too often. But who would have imagined 20 years ago that nearly all our electronics and manufactured goods now come from a country that is the last bastion of Communism. Today, China is the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world and poised to be a major player both in its consumption and production. Just this week, Chinese wineries took home 18 medals from the 2012 Decanter Wine Awards including a gold for a 2010 Cabernet Franc from  Chateau Reifeng-Auzias in Shandong province, a joint French-Chinese venture.

Photo by Powell Yang

Given China’s enormous population, very few are actually wine savvy. The typical Chinese consumer buys cheap plonk made domestically that is either very sweet or highly-fortified wines that more closely resemble moonshine brandy. Those who can afford higher end wines have nearly cornered the market on first and second growth French Bordeaux and Burgundy. Seeing the photos from my Facebook friend, Powell Yang, conspicuously reminds me of this. However, it’s that huge potential middle-ground where many New World wineries are hoping to score big with Chinese consumers. But even if your distribution plans don’t include China or Hong Kong, you can still learn something from them.

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Keplinger 2006 Red Slope Grenache

2012 May 4
by Eric Hwang

This wine just keeps getting better and better. After opening this, I’m down to my last bottle of this wonderful vintage and I’m wishing I bought more. Soon I’ll have to start opening the 2007.

Deep brick red clear color. Fragrant aromas of violets, cloves and cherry. Helen’s feminine style is evident in this gorgeous wine. Silky and luxurious dark cherry and raspberry flavors. The savory characteristics beg for rich foods such as duck or pork belly. True, it’s very high alcohol at 15.5%, but the wine is so well integrated it doesn’t taste hot and maintains an understated richness on the palate. How does she do that? A medium finish with a hint of cracked black pepper. One of the best Grenache I’ve had from California. read more…

Should I Have a Cellar? (Part 2)

2012 May 3
This is second part of a two part article on wine cellars. You may want to read the first part before you read this.

As promised, the second part of this article has some more specific questions about the reasons for cellaring wine.

Q: What are the ideal conditions to properly store my wine collection?

A: There are three issues that will affect the proper storage of wine: light, temperature and humidity. UV rays from light will damage wine by breaking down the organic compounds in wine that contribute to its aroma, flavor and overall structure. An ideal location should be dark. Humidity is a consideration because of the corks used in sealing wine bottles. A relative humdity of 60% – 70% is ideal. Low humidity can lead to failures in the cork seal and then the low humidity condition would cause faster evaporation of the wine. Assuming we can find a dark place with sufficient humidity, temperature is the most important factor in properly storing wine. A cool stable temperature keeps wine from aging too rapidly and preserves its characteristics. Most European wine caves have a naturally occurring temperature of about 13º Celsius or about 55º Fahrenheit with about ±1º fluctuation. Since wine has been historically stored at this temperature with great success, 55ºF is the ideal temperature most experts agree on. read more…