Bordeaux is grow­ing pop­u­lar in Asia and head­ing to greater ma­tu­rity

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

whites acid­ity and min­er­al­ity, and a sense of fresh­ness or crisp­ness com­bined with cit­rus aro­mas. In riper years the aro­mas tend to be more trop­i­cal. Mus­cadelle of­fers flo­ral aro­mas and a sense of round­ness, and gen­er­ally rep­re­sents less than 10 per­cent of the blend.

Semil­lon pro­vides round­ness and gives a creamy mouth­feel plus aro­mas of apri­cot and honey. The Semil­lon com­po­nent in blended dry wines tends to be­come more ap­par­ent with time. When over-ripe Semil­lon grapes be­come in­fected with the botry­tis fun­gus, known as “noble rot,” they pro­duce some of the world’s most lux­u­ri­ous dessert wines. Only 3 per­cent of Bordeaux’s pro­duc­tion is given over to this style of wine.

Dr. Va­lerie Lav­i­gne has worked closely with Pro­fes­sor Dubour­dieu as a re­search fel­low. Her Ph.D. de­scribed flavours in Bordeaux whites and re­ceived sev­eral aca­demic awards. She helped present a range of whites at a tast­ing in Brighton in the UK ear­lier this month, or­ga­nized by the R&R PR com­pany. All of the 30 wines tasted ranged from good to ex­cel­lent. The 2014 Chateau DoisyDaene, which is 100 per­cent Sauvi­gnon Blanc, was es­pe­cially fine. It has a pro­nounced nose and el­e­gant tex­ture. Dr. Lav­i­gne con­sulted in the mak­ing of this wine and con­firmed that 15 per­cent spent 10 months in new oak, which con­trib­uted to its smoky and re­fined tex­ture.

Other high­lights were wines from the Dour­the la­bel. All were el­e­gantly dry and had a pleas­ant cit­rus zing com­bined with min­eral hints and a pleas­ing mouth­feel. They would pair beau­ti­fully with fried dishes, the acid­ity cut­ting through the fat, or shell­fish. Find them at http://www. dour­the.com/.

White Bordeaux rep­re­sents a bar­gain com­pared with reds from the re­gion. The non-vintage Pre­mieres Cotes de Bordeaux, for ex­am­ple, is a de­light­ful sweet wine that is avail­able in many su­per­mar­kets. It is a blend of the three grapes men­tioned ear­lier. Aro­mas and flavours of honey and apri­cots flow on the tongue, com­bined with a pleas­ant acid­ity.

The Bordeaux Wine Coun­cil or Con­seil In­ter­pro­fes­sionel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) rep­re­sents the in­dus­try. It re­ports that six bot­tles of Bordeaux are sold ev­ery sec­ond in French su­per­mar­kets. Three in five bot­tles are sold on the do­mes­tic mar­ket.

Roland Quan­card is pres­i­dent of the CIVB’s pro­mo­tions com­mit­tee and chair­man of Che­val Quan­card es­tate. He has made find­ing in­ter­na­tional mar­kets a pri­or­ity. “The more you con­sider Bordeaux whites the more you dis­cover their qual­ity,” he told the Brighton tast­ing. “They are very af­ford­able.”

Bordeaux ex­ports to 170 coun­tries. Last year the re­gion ex­ported 279 mil­lion bot­tles worth 1,800 mil­lion eu­ros. Among the top 15 over­seas mar­kets, the main Asian des­ti­na­tions are China, Ja­pan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Sin­ga­pore.

China is Bordeaux’s big­gest over­seas mar­ket, and was worth 221 mil­lion eu­ros in sales last year. Hong Kong was a close sec­ond in terms of value, with ex­ports worth 214 mil­lion eu­ros. In­ter­est­ingly, both mar­kets were down com­pared with 2013. In China’s case the de­cline was large, at 21 per­cent. The fall was al­most the same, at 20 per­cent, for both Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan.

The fall is not as dis­as­trous as the num­bers sug­gest. Ex­ports since 2005 have been al­most ex­po­nen­tial, jump­ing from 12,000 hec­tolitres in 2005 to 452,000 hec­tolitres in 2013. So a fall of 20 per­cent in 2014 to 366,000 hec­tolitres merely re­flects a bal­anc­ing of the mar­ket, the CIVB said. “The mar­ket has caught its breath and is headed to­wards greater ma­tu­rity,” its an­nual re­port said.

Hong Kong is a some­what dif­fer­ent story. That city has tra­di­tion­ally pur­chased the ex­pen­sive end of Bordeaux. In 2014 the price range of wines sold was more evenly dis­trib­uted, and vol­ume in­creased as prices fell. Hong Kong’s de­cline was 11 per­cent.

Al­most all of the Bordeaux ex­ported to Asian coun­tries is red — 97 per­cent — but that is likely to change, given the im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of whites. The white harvest last year was good — about 64 mil­lion bot­tles, up 12 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous year. An in­ter­est­ing an­gle for Hong Kong was the sig­nif­i­cant rise in white wine sales last year, up 26 per­cent on 2013.

The CIVB spends 1.2 mil­lion eu­ros a year on re­search. It has at least 20 lab­o­ra­to­ries and more than 200 re­searchers. One of the ma­jor de­vel­op­ments has been the de­liv­ery of a ge­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion sys­tem tool that al­lows wine­mak­ers and viti­cul­tur­al­ists to cre­ate cus­tom­ized maps of their area. It pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on things like dis­tance from sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ments, or to mea­sure the im­pact of a weather prob­lem like hail. In the lat­ter case the tools over­lay weather maps on vine­yard plots to de­ter­mine the ex­tent of dam­age. Stephen Quinn writes about wine for a va­ri­ety of publi­ca­tions in the re­gion. From 1975 he was a jour­nal­ist for two decades with the Bangkok Post; the BBC, The Guardian, ITN, the UK Press As­so­ci­a­tion; TVNZ; the Mid­dle East Broad­cast­ing Cen­ter in Dubai and a range of re­gional news­pa­pers in Aus­tralia. Dr. Quinn be­came a jour­nal­ism ed­u­ca­tor in 1996, but re­turned to jour­nal­ism full time in 2011. He is based in Hong Kong and is the au­thor of 17 books. Annabel Jack­son has worked in the wine in­dus­try for more than 20 years, and has writ­ten eight books about wine and food. She is an Ad­vanced Am­bas­sador of the Academy of Wines of Por­tu­gal, and teaches wine mar­ket­ing at the Univer­sity of Brighton in the UK.

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