One of the keys to the dramatic expansion of wine in China was the result of Hong Kong’s newfound status as a global wine hub. On 27 February 2008, John Tsang, the Chief Financial Secretary of Hong Kong’s Treasury, announced the scrapping of the tax on wine in Hong Kong. With an estimated 350 importers today, and the proliferation of air-conditioned warehouses, Hong Kong has become a major supplier of fine wine, both legally and illicitly (China’s duty is 48 per cent to Hong Kong’s zero) to China.
Eyebrows were raised heavenwards this autumn when the trophy for a Bordeaux blend over £10 was snatched by a Chinese red from beneath the out-of-joint noses of Argentina, Australia and California. Sneering journalists questioned the integrity of the Decanter World Wine Awards. Then they queried the authenticity of the wine itself. How could China possibly make a wine capable of taking on and beating the world? D Loh commented in the China Daily: ‘If the wine is good, connoisseurs query if it has been secretly imported and then placed in a Chinese bottle’.
Pinot Noir is in the air, and, I’m pleased to say, in the glass. In the last few weeks, I’ve tasted German pinot noir against the rest of the world, fine red Burgundy at a pre-sale tasting by the American auction house, Acker Merrall & Condit, Australian pinot noir against New Zealand, and, most recently, an ‘emerging classics’ tasting of Chilean pinot noir. That’s quite a lot of pinot noir even if you love the thrill of great red Burgundy and its vinous acolytes, which fortunately I do.