left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Meeting the test, Jiebaina now sold by UK's Waitrose

Updated: 2012-09-20 11:08
By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan ( China Daily)

China-made goods, including some high-end products, have become increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, but that was not the case for Chinese wines until recently.

Waitrose, the sixth-largest retailer in the UK, began to sell Changyu Jiebaina in its chain of supermarkets on Aug 28, a landmark for the Chinese wine industry.

Meeting the test, Jiebaina now sold by UK's Waitrose

Changyu Jiebaina on sale at a Waitrose outlet in the UK. [Photo/China Daily] 

With a warrant to supply wines and spirits to the British royal family, Waitrose has 280 outlets across the UK. A bottle of Changyu Jiebaina is priced at 9.99 pounds ($16.2).

Chinese wines have been better accepted by global consumers in recent years, but only a few including Changyu have a chance to win over discerning consumers.

Guy Woodward, editor of Decanter magazine, said that "China is already the fifth-largest wine producer in the world and while much of the quality is pretty mediocre, it's inevitable that at the top end, as know-how improves (often via the employment of overseas consultants) and the best regions are identified, it will start turning out some decent wines worthy of export".

Woodward said he has tried Changyu Jiebaina and it is among the worthy.

Katie Mollet, a senior purchasing manager at Waitrose, said the retailer "is bringing in a new era as interest in the Chinese wine industry continues to grow".

"We scour the world to find exciting new wines and were particularly impressed by the Changyu Jiebaina," she said.

Mollet said she hopes Waitrose will help raise the profile of Chinese wines among UK consumers.

"The Changyu is a great wine to drink with a Friday night takeaway, perfect with Chinese style beef with ginger and spring onion," she said.

Top quality

Before it can be shipped to European markets, the wine has to pass strict quality standards whose 55 indicators include testing for pesticide residue and heavy metals.

Meeting the test, Jiebaina now sold by UK's Waitrose

When the wine arrives at customs in its destination country it is inspected by the quarantine organization, and before it reaches the supermarket shelves, it will be inspected again by local officials.

Statistics from the export department at Changyu show its wines have been sold in 28 countries and regions since 2005, including 14 European countries such as Germany and France. None of the products have failed to meet quality standards.

Zhou Hongjiang, general manager of Changyu, attributed the achievements to the company's strict quality test system.

"Our quality testing system is by no means inferior to those in the world's famous wine producing countries," he said.

Using criteria for organic grapes in China and Europe's quality standards for wine, Changyu created a comprehensive quality test system in 2000. It includes tests on grapes, auxiliary materials, wine processing and the final product.

To ensure the tests are effective, Changyu has spent more than 10 million yuan on state-of-the-art equipment such as liquid chromatographers and automatic analyzers.

Changyu's product quality was praised by Laurenz Moser, managing director of TxB International Fine Wines, the Changyu's biggest distributor in Europe.

Moser said since their cooperation began in 2005, Changyu has been doing a good job on quality control.

Even so, Moser visits Changyu every year and one of his tasks is to appraise the quality of the wine.

Last September, Moser and clients from the UK, Germany and Belgium did their own checks on Changyu's vineyards in Yantai, Ningxia, Xinjiang and Shannxi as well as its production sites and labs.