Wine Experts Analyse the Opportunities at Wine Industry Conference
11 November 2016 – The annual Wine Industry Conference was held yesterday as part of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the conference gathered leading international experts to share their insights on the theme of “Uncover the Opportunities of the New Cool Climate Wine Trend”.
Moderated by Hong Kong-based Master of Wine Debra Meiburg, Director of Meiburg Wine Media Ltd., the event featured presentations by Robert Joseph, British wine expert and writer; Professor Ma Huiqin, Department of Fruit Tree Sciences, China Agricultural University, and Assistant to the Director of the Ningxia Bureau of Grape Industry Development; Christine Parkinson, Group Head of Wine, Hakkasan Group; and Michel Bettane, leading French wine critic and co-writer of the guide Bettane & Desseauve des Vins de France.
Opening the conference, Ms Meiburg explained that the “edgy” topic of cool climate wine was chosen for this year’s conference “to share excitement around the world for cool climate wine and explore how it can be integrated for market success in Asia.”
Moving beyond the 45th parallel
Mr Joseph presented on “Cool Climate Wine: The Global Trend”, which focused on how the wine growing industry has evolved over the years. Exploring the development of cool climate wine growing, Mr Joseph explained that traditionally, regions along the 45th parallel were considered the optimal wine growing areas due to climate. He explained that the traditional factors of Heat Degree Days (HDD), Mean January/July temperature (MJJ) and Growing Season Temperature (GST) are “historic limits for ideal wine growing” but today wine growers must be aware of other factors and climate opportunities for growing wine. He noted that, “the sun itself might be the key for growing” and that growers are only now thinking about the impact of sunlight exposure and its effect on growing capabilities in cool climate regions. He also touched upon the potential impacts of global warming on the wine industry, saying “we may get more variations in climate rather than just an increase in temperature.” He said this could create new challenges and opportunities for growers.
Bright future in the China market
Professor Ma focused on the “Positioning of Cool Climate Wine on the Chinese Market”. Beginning her presentation by discussing cool climate wine at a molecular level, she said “in the evolution process, plants developed a capacity to manage climate” and that the “diversity of climate creates even greater variations of wine and more choice, including in the cool climate regions.” Exploring the diversity of cool climate regions, she said “cool climates can have big differences during winter time; Canada and China may have an even layer of snow covering the grapes whereas Tasmania may have a more humid winter” creating different cool climate wine varieties. Exploring opportunities in the Chinese mainland market, she noted that “the limited supply and the variety structure of cool climate wines are good for promotion. The China market is still primitive for cool climate wines.” She said this presents an opportunity to market these types of wine as a “sexy” new product trend. She suggested that cool climate wine producers should target their promotions to “mature consumers and wine experts in China to transfer the knowledge and concept” in the market. In her opinion, cool climate wines “could have a very bright future in the Chinese mainland market.”
Variety presents buying opportunities
Providing a buyers perspective, Ms Parkinson discussed the theme of “Cool Climate Wines for the On-trade – What You Need to Know for Success!” Coming from the restaurant industry, she pointed out that cool climate wines are of interest. “It’s great to have unusual wines and varieties because it adds something new and different for sommeliers to sell to customers,” said, adding that “one of the big advantages of cool climate regions is that they produce more varieties at the higher price points for selling.” Sharing her professional experience, she encouraged all buyers to be aware of the theories of cool climate wine regions because “unlike some of the warm region wines which are consistent, cool climate wines can change significantly year on year.” She believes that buyers need to pay attention to vintage charts and do tastings to get the right product. Her final piece of advice for buyers was that “cool climate wines are often made to drink with the local food of their region, so when buying for other cuisines you need to always taste the wine and food together.”
Concluding the presentations, leading wine critic Mr Bettane briefly presented on “Going Mainstream: Past and Future of Different Cool Climate Wine Markets” and shared his belief that “the best wines were always produced in areas where it is difficult for the vines to grow” and that this struggle is what creates a truly balanced wine. “If the grower is intelligent enough to help the vine grow, it is possible to produce a balanced wine anywhere,” he said.
Now in its ninth edition, the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, which ends tomorrow (12 November), is a renowned trading and promotion platform for the industry. This year’s fair features more than 1,060 exhibitors from 37 countries and regions, and offers over 70 special events. To promote wine education and wine appreciation among the community, the fair will be open to public ticket-holders on the final day.
Fair Website: www.hktdc.com/hkwinefair
About the HKTDC
A statutory body established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and services providers. With more than 40 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in overseas markets, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus