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July 31, 2011

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David Wrigley

DAVID Wrigley, international development director of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)

Q: How do you characterize the Chinese wine market?

A: It's growing all the time. In terms of consumption, there's an obvious growth of drinking imported wine recently, especially from France and Australia. In terms of production, Chinese wineries prefer making wines from internationally known grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. There are also some wines from local grape varieties, being very distinctive to China and waiting for recognition.

Q: What's China's drinking preference?

A: I think Chinese prefer the Old World style. I know that Pinot Noir in Burgundy is growing in popularity here in recent two years.

Q: What's your view of Chateau Lafite and Moet opening vineyards in China?

A: I am not surprised. These companies have done it elsewhere. Lafite broadened its vineyard in Chile while Moet is known for operations in both California and Australia. It's really a good way of reducing the difference in culture. Moreover, these big brands are capable of maintaining the consistency of their wine, even when it's produced in different places. I went to a seminar by Moet five years ago in London. Moet held a tasting there and successfully demonstrated that whether their Champagne is made in Spain, the US or France, the Moet style is just the same. I think Chinese will get a recognizable Moet house product with an affordable price.

Q: WSET is the world's biggest organization offering qualifications in wine and spirits. How is wine education developing in China?

A: It's a success. China is now one of the WSET's top five international markets. Our business in terms of candidate numbers this year is four times what it was last year. We are noticing the demand.

Q: Does WSET use the Western method of teaching Chinese how to drink wine?

A: No. We make some changes, especially in the area of aroma descriptors. Because there are many descriptors WE naturally use but YOU don't recognize, such as black fruit and mineral, and vice versa. WSET is trying to involve a more international language for describing aromas to take into account, for example, Eastern herbs, Chinese spices and so on.


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