China emerges as major force in the world of wine
China Daily Global

Judges from the Commanderie du Bontemps, one of the oldest and biggest French wine appreciation guilds, speak to the contestants virtually from the cellar of the major French wine estate Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

China is already on the way to becoming a major wine nation, and the future of wine production in China will be "bright and extremely dynamic", according to Jean-Guillaume Prats, CEO of the major French wine estate Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

Prats said: "The world of wine is a village, and China is with no doubt already a major producer and market of consumption for fine wines."

His comment came as a team of three Chinese mainland students, from Sichuan International Studies University, beat rivals from the world's top universities, including Cambridge, to win for the first time the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, a prestigious international wine tasting contest for college students.

The Left Bank Bordeaux Cup was introduced in 2002 by the Commanderie du Bontemps, one of the oldest and biggest French wine appreciation guilds. It was a national event for wine societies in France before it was opened up to the world in 2011.

Each year, after qualifying rounds on different continents, the final brings together eight teams to compete in the prestigious cellars of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, and this year, due to the pandemic, it took place virtually.

Emmanuel Cruse, the world grandmaster of the Commanderie du Bontemps who led the judging team, said: "From a commercial point of view, China is already a master wine country, and since a few years ago, it has become a major, or even the most important market, for Bordeaux wines in the world.

"The younger Chinese generation is really enthusiastic about wine history and are curious about wine," he added.

The Left Bank Bordeaux Cup contest took place virtually this year due to the pandemic. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Cruse, who has been dealing with the Chinese market since 1995, said: "It is a tremendous evolution in the Chinese market and I still think that the best is yet to come with the potential of China for fine wines."

Fan Lina, a Chinese member of the Commanderie du Bontemps and a Bordeaux-based senior chateau mergers and acquisitions adviser, said: "The excellent performance of the Chinese team shows the world a fresh image of the younger generation in China, and this is undoubtedly a good illustration of how the rise of China's economy has impacted all other aspects associated with the country."

Fan added that the scale and potential of the Chinese market has made many leading winemakers place a strong focus on the highly promising market.

Wine, with a long-standing history in China, has been produced since the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).Today, drinking wine, especially imported fine wine, is seen by some as a symbol of social status.

In 2020, around 1.24 billion liters of wine were consumed in China, making it the sixth-largest wine consumer worldwide, and the fifth-largest global wine importer, with its import value amounting to 1.6 billion euros ($1.88 billion), according to Statista, a German market and consumer data company.

Rodolphe Lameyse, CEO of Vinexposium, the world's leading wine and spirits events organizer, said the cultivation of young Chinese consumers has contributed to wine development in the country.

"We have witnessed through our different events in Asia that a new generation of young Chinese consumers has emerged and they are particularly eager to learn more about wine. The new generation is more open to the wine world," he said.

Lameyse said that the Chinese team's victory can be seen as "a very strong signal of the rise of talent, interest and competitiveness in China".