You might not associate China with wine in the same way you do France or Italy or Spain, but the country is full of serious oenophiles. In fact, China’s wine market is growing explosively. Just last year, bottled wine imports grew a third in volume compared to 2014, according to Decanter China. So it makes sense that companies would start thinking about producing high-quality wines domestically. But where?
Jasper Morris, the Burgundy buyer for the UK wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, believes the ideal region could be China’s Yunnan Province. He recently visited winery sites in the area owned by three major companies—including Pernod Ricard and Moet Hennessy—and found it to be similar in climate to Bordeaux. Appropriately, many of the wineries are focusing on Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Morris was impressed by the Yunnan wines he sampled. “The wine didn’t taste of expensive winemaking with expensive oak treatment and there was a real purity of fruity expression,” he told The Drinks Business. “I felt it did have a sense of place and I think they have found a space to make very good wine.”
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The region does have its drawbacks. It’s very remote—about an eight-hour drive away from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, which could make exportation difficult. So until those details are figured out, we’ll have to make due with China’s main boozy export: Baijiu.