Locally Made, Bordeaux, Italian And White Wine Increasingly In Fashion
We might think of Hong Kong mostly as a hub for high-end wine auctions and a city neck-deep in small wine boutiques and bars, but more is happening in the city’s wine scene than many would think. Seasoned local wine lovers, as well as the city’s growing foreign population and younger drinkers, are creating new opportunities for winemakers from around the world, exploring wines beyond the typical bold Bordeaux. This week, The Drinks Business profiles 10 key trends now shaping the Hong Kong wine scene.
While we’re not convinced that all of these trends actually have teeth, others — such as pairing white wines with local cuisine — have been a long time in the making. Still, what happens in Hong Kong’s market typically happens within a few years in the mainland China market and, in some cases, these trends can make it over the border even more quickly. (See recent popularity of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in the Mainland.) As such, it’s a list worth reading and keeping in mind as mainland China’s wine market develops in the years ahead.
The 10 top Hong Kong wine trends taking shape in 2012, as listed by TDB:
1.) Hong Kong Wines: imported grapes from Bordeaux are being turned into top quality wines by The 8th Estate Winery and wines from grapes in the Rouge Valley, Oregon, are created by Portrait Winery and Distillery. Also, a newly arrived company called MY Wine is also promoting self-made wine that they will help you to make and then cellar for you while it ferments.
2.) Bordeaux Back in Style: Top end Burgundy is fast falling out of favour with the recent arrest of alleged fraudster Rudy Kurniawan earlier this year. (Yet, we’d point out, Burgundy has not lost its luster at recent auctions in the city, with buyers aggressively bidding for rarer lots.)
3.) Social Media Sales: Recently, wine lovers have begun buying and selling wine to each other through the social media network Facebook. Avid lovers of back vintage wine put messages up in Facebook groups and share the purchase of wines that they only want one or two bottles of but that require a minimum order of one dozen.
4.) White Wine Rising: Aromatic styles have seen the largest growth with Rieslings from New Zealand and Germany making the largest headway as their delicate flavours pair well with the diversity of the local cuisine. (This is a trend we’ve been watching for over two years, particularly as it relates to the growing demand for lighter wines among younger and female wine buyers in mainland China.)
5.) Restaurant Wine Decline: According to some wine distributors, around Hong Kong purchases of wine by restaurants has slowed down in recent months while private client sales have risen accordingly. Hong Kong has always been a notoriously expensive country and the mark ups on wine do nothing to diminish this reputation. Due to extortionate corkage fees, people are choosing not to drink wine in restaurants. They either get the eating out of the way and then enjoy a bottle of wine with friends in a members club or at a private home.
6.) Keen on Italian: The popularity of Italian wine is ever increasing in Hong Kong with the easy availability of back vintages and the growing interest in wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Italian wines are considered a safer buy and are much more affordable than their counterparts from Bordeaux and Burgundy as there is little to no speculation on the price of the wines. There is also a growing culture of pairing Chinese food with Italian wines.
7.) Mastering Wine: With an almost 200 percent year on year increase in enrollment in the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program, Hong Kong people are looking for bigger and better qualifications to get ahead in this city where wine knowledge is seemingly more important than the actual consumption of the beverage.
8.) Emerging Bloggers: There has been a noticeable rise in blogging in the territory with people sharing their knowledge and experiences of wine online for others to read and learn from.
9.) More Wine Apps: Hong Kong has long been a place where digital technology has been at the forefront of the way of life and this goes for wine too.
10.) Wine Events: Vinexpo Asia Pacific takes place this year in Hong Kong, with the annual Restaurant and Bar Show following in September; then Wine and Dine occurs in the first week of November before the annual Hong Kong Trade Development Council Wine & Spirits Fair rounds off the year’s programme.