Will China buy more foreign wineries? 20 wine questions for 2012

2012 glasses The Mayans forecast a cataclysmic finish for 2012. My crystal wine glasses are not as clear, so instead of forecasts, I ask twenty questions relevant to the wine world in 2012.

Will dogmatism die? Sommelier Raj Parr disavows 14% as a litmus test for pinot; other somms say they are not into “natural” or organic wine movement as much as they are into the “good wine movement.”

Will prices of European wines fall if the euro weakens? Dream on.

Will India drink more wine? If import tariffs are significantly lowered, it can only help.

Will China go straight to the source and buy more wineries? The state-owned COFCO bought Biscottes in Chile in 2010, in part as a result of preferential tariffs; it could be a harbinger of things to come.

Will Americans put less wine on the table? Economic malaise could derail two decades of per capita growth in wine consumption; craft beer represents a real threat.

Will the Chinese embrace white wines? They go much better with the cuisine than reds.

Will Yao Ming’s small production wine boost all of California wine in China?

Will Bordeaux downturn morph into a free fall? Probably not but the top wines have already slowed notably.

Will box wines get better? In the category that producers and consumers like for the cost-savings, the trend is up but it has a long way to go.

Will wine writers disclose potential conflicts of interest? Transparency is key.

Will more wine blogs cease? The lack of a financial model still plagues the medium.

Will remaining wine blogs get better? Twitter and Facebook have siphoned off the “what I drank last night” posts; in order to break through the chatter, blogs have to have a strong voice, point of view, or original contribution relevant to the broader discussion about wine.

Will a wine newsletter fold? Charging anything limits audience size.

Will points self-destruct? Score inflation is rampant and remains the biggest threat to scores themselves.

Will more retailers become points-free zones? As Americans’ confidence with wine climbs, shops may not need to turn to third-party shelf-talkers.

Will freer trade in wine emerge within the US? New Jersey indicates a limited yes but the biggest unknown is what will happen with HR 1161 in the unpredictable lame duck Congress in November and December.

Will romorantin be the next hot grape variety? No, but it’s worth trying a good example.

Will malbec’s growth slow? Probably, if only because it can’t grow at 49% forever.

Will wine come from more far-flung parts of the world? Yes–crack a foreign pronunciation guide to unlock the frequent discount hidden behind unpronounceable or difficult words on labels.

Will wine remain fun? Oh yes.

Have questions of your own? Hit the comments and share them!

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16 Responses to “Will China buy more foreign wineries? 20 wine questions for 2012”


  1. As a wine lover, I have to say that your blog is one of the best I have ever visited!

    Greetings from Mendoza, Argentina. :)


  2. Will prices of European wines fall if the euro weakens? N.F.W. Don’t we all dream about that…..

    Will India drink more wine? I can immagine they certainly buy more from the looks of it, now if they can sell it that’s another story, I certainly hope so, since wine is possibly the greatest beverage, on planet earth at least.

    Will China go straight to the source and buy more wineries? Say whaaaat…… If they do then will be interesting to observe the changes if any.

    Will Americans put less wine on the table? I don’t believe so since there are a lot of great value & inexpensive wines in the market, and as far as craft beer goes it’s not cheep.

    Will the Chinese embrace white wines? They should though as new markets as China evolve, although not such a new but for it’s size the majority is trully new, they tend to follow the white’s with seafood & reds with meat. China on the other hand has already established sommeliers who hopefully will guide their guests to drink the right juice.

    Will Yao Ming’s small production wine boost all of California wine in China? Don’t think so specially with such high prices.

    Will Bordeaux downturn morph into a free fall? Not sure.

    Will box wines get better? It certainly went a very long way, though I don’t see it reaching the quality likes of “the honest” wines in the $20+ retail range.

    Will wine writers disclose potential conflicts of interest? Honesty is a gift handed to all but only few offer to the rest. Aparently fame & $$$$$ changes people.

    Will more wine blogs cease? That’s an issue which I hope it never happens.

    Will remaining wine blogs get better? Blogs have done a great job. We choose to follow the ones that we agree.

    Will a wine newsletter fold? Charging anything limits audience size. True that……..

    Will points self-destruct? Score inflation is rampant and remains the biggest threat to scores themselves. I couldn’t put it better my self.

    Will more retailers become points-free zones? Now that’s something to lQQk forward. Well trained employees will dafinetely behave and act as the wines reps and work with their guests for better explaining & not because someone gave it a 90 or 85. That actually says nothing, to mke at least.

    Will freer trade in wine emerge within the US? Not sure I’ve been 3.5 years out of NYC, have not followed

    Will romorantin be the next hot grape variety? I don’t believe so, although there’s a lot to learn from it

    Will malbec’s growth slow? Hopefully…..

    Will wine come from more far-flung parts of the world? Yes–crack a foreign pronunciation guide to unlock the frequent discount hidden behind unpronounceable or difficult words on labels.

    Will wine remain fun? wine 4 evaaaaaa


  3. Doctor,

    Forgive me, I wish you & your loved ones the very best for 2012 and beyond.

    And may more tradition shines in the world of cultivation & wine production with the absolute less human interaction.

    LONG LIVE BALANCE & TERROIR DRIVEN WINES, & I MEAN TERROIR DRIVEN….. NOT TERROIR WRITTEN BECAUSE IT SO SAYS ON THE BACK LABEL (or front for that matter)


  4. “Score inflation is rampant and remains the biggest threat to scores themselves.” Couldn’t agree more! Not every wine is a “B” or above. I know some retailers who hate scores and refuse to post them.


  5. Andrea, can’t agree with you more. A, B, C, or 98, 95, 90 or 85 is an individual’s personal score, which however influences most people. Why do we need a number, a letter or stars to taste, drink & enjoy the worlds greatest & only living beverage captured in a bottle.

    I guess because some people influences the masses so some others make the $$$$$.

    I say NO TO WINES that are influenced by Michel Rolland, the worlds most
    ubiquitous and powerful wine consultant

    The Rolland “movement” backed by Robert Parker Jr. is to create technically well-made, globaly palatable interchangeable wine products of no perceptible origin or identity…….. (Jonathan Nossiter)


  6. To the point about score points: two sides. Retailers fighting on price will continue to rely heavily on points to do their jobs for them as they offer no value-add ~ the race to the bottom will continue and the crutch of points is the third leg of that stool: price, product, points.
    As for those on the retail spectrum who seek to distinguish themselves through selection and advice (the ever-decreasing minority) points will be less relevant. In fact mainstream wines will continue to move off of those retailers shelves as they seek to distinguish themselves through thoughtful and less-widely-available selections (the polar opposite of the price-slashed commodity-wines).


  7. Interesting questions–i’m a big fan! (and hoping 2012 keeps both our blogs going!)


  8. […] In the Democrat and Chronicle, Holly Howell offers 12 tasks for wine lovers in 2012. Meanwhile, Dr. Vino asks twenty questions relevant to the wine world in 2012. […]


  9. Years ago, I saw what may have been an experimental package of Premier Cru Chablis in a 3-liter box. Remember that, I did a little search, and four that Chablis in a box is available from Domaine de Noelle, Jean Brocard (Petit Chablis), and Domaine Louis Moreau. I have no idea whether this is a trend our not.

    Jeez, whatever happened to the trade agreement with the EU that was supposed to end the use of European place names on California wine labels?

    Regarding points: Mr. Newlin has it exactly.

    Chinese ownership: Them that’s got the gold buys the wineries. Them that buys the wineries and don’t understand the business later sell them off. See also Foster’s Group Limited. ;-)

    Let a thousand Malbecs bloom. Decent burger wine for under $10 is a Good Thing.

    Good blogs (like this one) will live. Bad blogs will die. Except for mine.


  10. An edit function would be a hell of a thing. Meanwhile:

    Years ago, I saw what may have been an experimental package of Premier Cru Chablis in a 3-liter box. Remembering that, I did a little search, and found that Chablis in a box is available from Domaine de Noelle, Jean Brocard (Petit Chablis), and Domaine Louis Moreau. I have no idea whether this is a trend or not.


  11. Giorgos – thanks for the thorough assessment!

    Andrea – glad that’s been your experience too.

    Thanks, Laura!

    Philippe – thanks for stopping by. I’m surprised to hear you say that these small shops that train their staff and don’t use shelf-talkers are an “ever-decreasing minority.” Maybe my view from New York is distorted by legislation that prevents chains, but it seems to me that there are more, small shops popping up even in states that do allow chains. Is your experience otherwise?

    Dave – thanks for the compliment! Best wishes for the new year.


  12. Philippe even in Cyprus people are looking more wine stores who are more personal and with staff that can guide them through their wine selections rather than select wines because they got a “solid” 90+ from WA, the Spectator, Decanter etc….. the number is growing.

    And again we are talking about Cyprus.


  13. Thanks for the great post, DR.

    Here’s my take on a few things:

    Will prices of European wines fall if the euro weakens? Slightly, but the state of our(US) economy will play a larger roll.

    Will China go straight to the source and buy more wineries? Absolutely.

    Will Americans put less wine on the table? I would guess the shift towards value wines will continue, but consumption won’t decrease.

    Will the Chinese embrace white wines? Isn’t Chardonnay big in China?

    Will box wines get better? Probably, but perceptions are hard to change.

    Will more retailers become points-free zones? My hope is that people start looking at the opinions of critics and enthusiasts that they trust as well as people they know personally – in contrast to looking at the rating and points given by a few top critics and magazines.

    Will romorantin be the next hot grape variety? I’ve never had romorantin, but it’s on my list for the year.

    Will malbec’s growth slow? Yes – Production can only grow so fast and lags behind consumption.

    Will wine remain fun? Always!


  14. Thanks for your thoughts, Laura!

    At least one top Bordeaux has entered free fall: It turns out the Chinese “8” no longer lucky for Lafite since their 08 has tumbled 45% in a year. http://j.mp/yv9M3A


  15. […] with that, 20 wine questions for […]


  16. Five China questions…

    Will Chinese investors make a major buy, of Treasury Estate Wines level, in 2012?

    (Possibly)

    Will the number of Chinese wines entered in the Decanter Wine World Awards increase this year given a Chinese wine took the Bordeaux over 10 pounds category last year?

    (Yes. I know some operations who, given that result, lamented they didn’t enter last year.)

    Will the number of China “experts” who have not been to China and get all of their info from other people who have never been here a) double, b) triple, c) quadruple or d) go up even more?

    (I would guess a).)

    Will investors look beyond Lafite and Romanee Conti to… Chinese wines?

    (Already happening to a degree, given demand for Jia Bei Lan etc by those who want to put bottles away as an investment.)

    Will online sales grow in China?

    (Yes. And online sales and social media sites will see consumers drink more and more wine for pleasure rather than for brand and status.)

    Cheers, Boyce


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