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SYDNEY - As demand for high-quality wine in China continues to rise, the future is looking bright for Australian exports, a third-generation winemaker has said recently.
Over the past four years, China's enthusiasm for Australian wine has flourished. Between 2007 and 2010, total sales to China increased by 34.7 million liters, or 260 percent, according to Wine Australia.
And while growth slowed over 2010-11, Australia is still the second-ranked exporter to China after France.
"The market has been building quite steadily. There's a genuine interest in matching quality wine with very good Chinese food," Mitchell Taylor, managing director of South Australian winery Taylors Wines and director of the Winemakers Federation of Australia told Xinhua.
Taylors is one of 12 wineries to join a group called Australia's First Families of Wine that will head to China later this year in a joint campaign to wine and dine Chinese consumers. "The Australian wine industry's very proud that we are the second-biggest export into the Chinese wine market at the moment, closely behind France," said Taylor. "But we believe when people start to look at the lovely fruit profiles that are in Australian wines, there's potential to maybe even overtake France in the future."
With rich reds to tempt the Chinese palette, red wine currently dominates the market at an estimated 85 percent market share. Taylor said Australian wineries are well-equipped to take the Chinese cellars by storm. "We have this abundance of sunshine, so we can get more ripeness in our fruit, and more vibrant flavors. And I think those flavors go particularly well with the great Chinese cuisine," he said.
In Taylors Winery, "the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz, and also the Merlot and Pinot, and a little bit of Chardonnay will be the principal wines," he added.
However, while high-quality Australian wines have been well- received in China, the industry is being held back by the lack of a free trade agreement and poor exchange rates with the strong Australian dollar, said Taylor.
To correct this, the industry is committed to "working very closely with the Australian government and the Chinese government, so that hopefully they can work together with some free trade agreements," he noted. "We're very focused on making sure that we get better access and better coverage."
A trading partnership, coupled with Australia's innovation in winemaking techniques, could secure a promising future for Australia-China wine exports, opined Taylor. "The beauty of Australian winemaking is that it's very innovative and proactive," he said."We're not caught in the traditions of Europe so much, and we don't have strict appellation rules, so really Australian winemakers are leaders in the world on the innovation space."
"Our techniques, like using the screw cap to close our wines, the way we ferment and pick the grapes, means we get these lovely breakthroughs with yeast technology, adds to the quality and the beautiful style that Australian wines can produce."
Taylor said he is excited to visit China later this year, hosting dinner parties and educating people about matching wines with good food. While the family-owned company has been selling in China for 15 years, Taylor hopes the current market surge will give an extra burst to his business.
"We look forward to taking this technology to the world and sharing it with people in China and enjoying fine food and fine wine together," he said.