At Ideal Wine we’re not wine snobs; we do love a good bottle and of course, we let our quality speak for itself, but we don’t judge a vintage merely on where the grapes are grown and the drink produced, that would be cutting our collective nose off to spite our face and means that we’d be potentially missing out on a lot of opportunities. That’s why we’re not the sort of company that thinks the vineyards of the world start and stop in the valleys of France; we have wines for you from far flung areas of the globe such as Australia and California. However, even we have to hold up our hands and admit that we don’t have any bottles from China.
Why would this be such a concern, we hear you ask. Well a few weeks ago we came across an editorial on the BBC News Magazine site entitled ‘Will China ever be a Wine Superpower?’ Well, when we saw it we were sceptical at the very least; China may be developing as a world power in many areas; however wine has never been one of them. Chinese wine may be passable enough to someone who doesn’t know how to differentiate class, but to us at The Ideal Wine Company, their wine barely even qualifies for the label.
However, we set our preconceptions aside and delved into the article; after all there was no harm in seeing what it had to say and learning a few things, even if we may not directly benefit from it. It started off by saying that when expats had tried Chinese wines 15 years ago they often commented that it tastes ”like cough syrup” and that has come to characterise Chinese wines of old. The article made it clear from the outset that Chinese wine still has a long way to go before it reaches the standard of the ones that we stock.
However, what we were surprised to discover is that things are changing and the standard is, if somewhat gradually, beginning to improve. Apparently there are some wines that are now coming to be known on the world stage, it really is growing to become a thing. It used the famous example of Jia Bei Lan, the tiny winery in the nation’s North West Ningxia Province that beat a host of French rivals in 2011 to collect the prize of an international gold medal for its Bordeaux-style Grand Reserve Wine circa 2009. A decade ago, this would have been unthinkable in the wine world. The fact that any non-European Wine, never mind one from China of all place, could do this really does show how the landscape is changing.
Chinese wine hasn’t developed the reputation, or by and large the product yet to earn a place on the Ideal Wine Company list but if they keep going the way they’re going, it may just be a matter of time.