With China’s de facto wine ban on Australian wine dimming its future, Chile, currently China’s third biggest wine supplier after Australia and France, might emerge as the only winner out of the ongoing China-Australia trade rows.
Faced with twin investigations launched by China’s Ministry of Commerce on allegations of dumping and subsidies, Australia’s lucrative wine future in China is hanging on a fine line.
Chile, the South American country, in comparison enjoys an amicable relationship with China. With abundance of wines to export, it is ready to pounce at the opportunity if a vacuum is created.
“For Chile, we have been very successful in Asia and we are No. 1 in Japan and in top 2 in Korea too, and in China we are number 3,” says Eduardo Chadwick, CEO and president of Chile’s iconic Viñedo Chadwick winery, via Zoom while launching its latest 2018 vintage in Hong Kong.
“In 2010-2012, there was a move towards French wine [in China], then Australian and Chilean somehow came in third,” he explains. “Of course what is happening politically may give us a short-term push but I think definitely Chile will perhaps be in top two in the future.”
The South American wine producing country currently ranks as China’s third biggest supplier, with US$346 million worth of wines shipped to the Asian country last year, according to data released by China Association of Imports and Exports of Wine & Spirits (CAWS).
Chadwick’s three wine brands – Viña Errázuriz, Viñedo Chadwick in Puente Alto and Seña in Aconcagua Valley – are particularly popular in mainland China.
While Seña is usually a blend of Cabernet Saugivnon, Cabernet Franc with small percentage of Carmenere, Merlot and Malbec in some vintages, the Viñedo Chadwick is often a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine if not 100% pure.
The Viñedo Chadwick’s fan base in China grew especially after the 2004 Berlin Tasting that pitted his two top Chilean wines Viñedo Chadwick and Seña against Bordeaux first growths and Italian Super Tuscans.
At the blind tasting chaired by Steven Spurrier, the mastermind behind 1976 Paris Judgement, the 2000 vintage surprisingly outperformed the other icons, effectively knocking down stereotypes to anoint itself as a world-class red wine.
Both Viñedo Chadwick and Seña are sold in China through Bordeaux La Place system’s established distribution system.
The latest release of 2018 vintage, described by the vintner of having “the best balance so far” was just released this September.
The season 2018 was marked by a moist winter followed by a dry and mild spring. Summer was moderately fresh with warmer temperatures towards the end of the season allowing for a very gentle and perfect ripening of our grapes.
It is as Chadwick lauded “perhaps the most balanced and finest expression that has been crafted at Viñedo Chadwick,” coming off 2016 and 2017 vintages. The former was the coolest of the decade and the latter the warmest, he describes.
Continuing on China’s fine wine market, he adds, “There’s great appreciation especially when we do blind tasting among fine wine consumers. I am very optimistic and encouraged by the long-term perspective for Chilean wines in China.