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6 March 2013 Chinese show interest in fine wine from Australia

French wine remains the favourite among Chinese citizens as it tops the list of varietals imported to the country, although Australian brands are not far behind.

That is according to Darren Rathbone, chief executive of the Rathbone Wine Group, who suggested that winemakers from the Southern Hemisphere are increasingly choosing to pitch their products to the Asian market.

The Drinks Business quoted Mr Rathbone as saying that "in terms of imports into China, France is out in front, but Australia is a close second in both volume and value sales and considerably ahead of Chile".

Mr Rathbone suggested that winemakers are opting for Asia over Europe as the price of trading in the EU is becoming prohibitive.

The popularity of wines in China is driven by brand rather than the region from which it came. "It's different to the European market in that consumers are not driven by regionality but by strong brands," he said.

Langhi Shiraz is the company's most favoured wine among the Chinese market.

China associates dragons with good luck and power which means that Xanadu Dragon Shiraz is another favourite in the East Asian market. So much so, that Rathbone Wine Group had to reinstate the brand in China after it was previously dropped due to poor global sales.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Bruce Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars suggested that the Chinese market is becoming more sophisticated in its tastes.

"We see that the Chinese wine consumer is learning more and more about wines … we're also seeing some of the young Chinese wine drinkers becoming interested in white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling," he said.

The publication suggested that it's not just French and Australian wine which the Chinese market is showing an interest in, American products are also beginning to gain traction.

Jeffrey Zee, an architect from Shanghai who attended the Napa Valley Auction last year, implied that there is still some way to go before the US wine market is fully embraced in China.

"Napa is still … a beginner in terms of the wine acceptance from Chinese customers," he said.

 Category: Fine Wine merchants

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