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New, Notes and Dusty Bottle Items – The Best of What’s Around Edition

Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …

Mainstream Wine Media

If you’re not already a subscriber to Wine & Spirits magazine, do yourself a favor and at least head to your local bookstore and pick up the current issue.  Focused on the issue of alcohol in wine, it is an incredible read from cover to cover – literally.  Tyler Colman from Dr. Vino leads off with a piece on the TTB, taxation and alcohol levels that is highlighted by a table that lists deviations in wines from their stated label alcohol and third-party testing (also referenced on his site).  The last piece in the magazine is a fascinating editorial from Frog’s Leap owner John Williams on the cause of high alcohol in Napa Valley wine.  Williams’ opinion may surprise even the most knowledgeable of wine enthusiasts.  I won’t play spoiler, but it doesn’t have anything to do with global warming. 

The entire issue is really well thought out and an example of excellence in wine journalism; it is the sort of deep dive coverage of an issue that is being lost in the bytes online.  Kudos to Josh Greene and team at W&S.

Speaking of wine magazines on the newsstand.  The current issue of Wine Enthusiast has a two-page spread advertisement from the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office.

On the surface, it’s two pages that most readers quickly flipped through.

However, on closer inspection, it speaks to a seismic change in potential focus that will take place over the coming decade for the U.S. wine industry.

The summary copy to the word intensive two-page ad says:

“An overnight boom in wine trade occurred in February 2008, when Hong Kong eliminated the wine duties.  Merchants are seizing the opportunity to increase shipments and establish a greater presence in Hong Kong.  Companies from various sectors of the wine industry are seeking to uncork the huge potential market in Asia and particularly mainland China – a region on the verge of becoming the driver of global wine sales in the next decade and beyond.”

Whoa.  For reinforcement it said, “…The driver of global wine sales in the next decade and beyond.”

That’s enough to pique somebody’s curiosity.

Now, to be fair, the opportunity in China isn’t new with this ad.  W. Blake Gray had a nice piece on it yesterday, Robert Parker is heavily engaged in Asia and there’s a general awareness that the international opportunity in Asia is on a serious upswing.  However,  I’m always interested in the things that have public awareness, but no actual supporting knowledge – things like healthcare bills, NAFTA and other large scale initiatives that provide vacuum-oriented conversational fodder.

The “in a vacuum” conversation goes something like:

Bob:  “I hear the Chinese are really getting into wine.” 

John: “Yeah, I heard that, too.” 

Bob:  “Hey, when is your fantasy football draft.”

Practically speaking, nobody really knows much except that something is happening.

And, happening it is.  In addition to the lift on duties (taxes), Hong Kong and the U.S. signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (MOU)” in May of this year.  And, Washington state and Oregon signed a similar deal with Hong Kong, as well.

Quoting Rita Lau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development,  “Today, our relationship with the U.S. takes another major step forward. Riding on this MOU, we will strengthen our joint efforts on promoting wine-related trading, tourism, investment and education.

“The MOU also covers a number of special areas. These include promoting wine alongside regional and local cuisine, facilitating the organization of wine auctions in Hong Kong for U.S. wines, and encouraging the provision of quality wine storage facilities in Hong Kong,”

It’s anybody’s guess how China will impact the domestic wine business, but we know that the existing auction market and Bordeaux futures are largely being driven by the Chinese. 

According to reports, US wine exports to Hong Kong totaled $49 million in 2009-2010.  And, it’s been said that the U.S. wants to be the number one exporter of wine to Hong Kong and mainland China.  If that revenue number increases by 5X in the next ten years will that have an impact in focus from our wineries and the U.S. customers they serve? 

If for nothing else other than edification purposes, I would encourage all wine enthusiasts to dig into this a little deeper and develop an understanding early in the process.

Google:  “Hong Kong U.S. Wine MOU” and you’ll find plenty to research.


Posted in, News, Notes & Dusty Bottle Items. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 08/25, 1WineDude wrote:

Here’s an idea to help our globe, in general.

Let’s ship a copy of the U.S. Constitution, or at least the Bill of Rights, with every single case of wine sent from the U.S. to China.

Too many global industries and companies have turned a blind eye to China’s horrific human rights record already.

On 08/25, Jeff wrote:


Not even going to go there.  But, the political implications certainly could (probably will be) another blog post.

Certainly, it’s an interesting idea to poll wineries to see where exactly they come down philosophically in their view of capitalism and a desire to sell wine into a communistic country.

I’m a betting man and certainly no expert on the political structure of China, but Hong Kong is much more westernized and less strident in its communistic tendencies then the mainland, I believe.  Because of this, I’m guessing that many wineries would be able to live with themselves if the business was being conducted in Hong Kong.

Good fodder for investigation, for sure.


On 08/25, 1WineDude wrote:

Well my man - I’m going there full-on next week on… got a feeling it will cause a minor sh*t-storm but somebody needs to focus the spotlight on the tortures, executions, and imprisonments that got China’s middle class where it is today.  Too many businesses (wine included) are too busy looking at the dollar signs to see it…

On 08/25, Jeff wrote:

Tell you what, you give a nod to goodgrape’s post highlighting the MOU and you can have the sh*t-storm.  Bone up on your Chinese gov’t history, the devil is in the details and Hong Kong doesn’t have the rep. that Beijing does.

On 01/07, cilt Bakimi wrote:

Here’s an idea to help our globe, in general.


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