China to host Brussels World Wine Competition for 1st time

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All eyes in the world of wine will be on the Haidian district of Beijing next year when it hosts the 25th edition of the Brussels World Wine Competition (Concours Mondial) from May 11 and 13, 2018.

The Concours Mondial is one of the most important wine exhibitions in the world and this is the first time it will be held outside of Europe.

Haidian district deputy mayor Chen Mingjie received the official announcement on Sunday in the Spanish city of Valladolid, the venue for the 2017 edition of the exhibition.

The announcement shows the world wine industry is now looking to Asia in recognition of the growth of the Chinese wine industry.

China now has the second largest extension of vineyards in the world, while it is the sixth largest wine producer and the fifth most important wine consumer. Experts believe that, should current trends continue, the country will become a world leader in the sector.

“All of our children will drink Chinese wine of great quality,” assured Baudouin Havaux, the president of the Brussels Councours Mondial, at the closing of the 2017 event. “China is the most dynamic wine market and its wines are gaining in prestige all the time,” he added.

Chinese wine, such as Dragon Seal Huadong or Great Wall, are already on sale in Europe and the importance of Chinese wine was visible in Valladolid, with 250 wines, including an exclusive series of rose wines presented in the competition, compared with 80 in 2016.

The event brought together 320 wine experts from 50 different countries in Valladolid to judge 9,080 wines in a blind tasting.

The results of this tasting will be made public on May 12 when prizes are given out for the best wines in the world.

The Brussels Concours Mondial is not just a meeting of experts: it also allows the host city to promote its products as a destination for wine tourism. The Autonomous Community of Castilla and Leon, which has Valladolid as its capital, earned 476 million euros (518 million U.S. dollars) in 2016 thanks to wine tourism, according to data provided by the regional government.

Meanwhile, the Chinese delegation in Valladolid considers the Concours Mondial to be a “unique opportunity to expand the market for Chinese wine.”

Chen assured that the event would also be used to “promote Haidian to the world and to enrich the wine industry with criteria linked to ecology.”
The Haidian deputy mayor also highlighted the long tradition of wine in China, explaining there are documents over a thousand years old, which make reference to wine tasting.

The Chinese delegation in Valladolid offered a cocktail party to the 320 experts and dozens of guests with special typical Chinese liqueurs at a gala which also included food paired with Chinese wine.

“The tendency is very clear: the Chinese wine market is gaining strength all the time,” confirmed Frederic Galtier, delegate of the Concours Mondial de Brussels.

The latest reports of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (IOVW), made up of 46 member states and with China as an observer, confirmed that China is the country that is registering the greatest expansion in the amount of land being dedicated to vineyards. Last year the country reported a 16.8-percent increase, or 847,000 hectares under cultivation.

These numbers see China consolidate its position as the country that has the second largest amount of land dedicated to vines, behind Spain (975,000 hectares) and ahead of France (785,000 hectares), Italy (690,000 hectares), Turkey (497,000 hectares) and the United States (443,000 hectares).

If the Chinese wine industry continues expanding at its current rate, it will overtake Spain as the country with the most land dedicated to vineyards.

However, despite the expansion in land dedicated to cultivating grapes, Chinese wine production has been stable since 2014, with a quantity of around 11.5 million hectoliters per year. This means that China is the sixth largest wine producer after Italy, (50.9 million hectoliters), France (43.5 million hectoliters), Spain (39.3), the United States (23.9) and Australian (13 million hectoliters).

China is also the country which saw the biggest increase in wine consumption in 2016, with 17.3 million hectoliters drunk. Although this is still well below the 27 million drunk in France and the 22.5 million drunk in Italy, it still shows China is an attractive and emerging market, especially for red wine, which is considered to be more attractive to Chinese consumers.

And a final example of China’s arrival on the wine scene is the money the wine industry moves in the country — 2.14 billion euros imported in 2016, compared to 5.02 billion in the United States, 3.50 billion in Britain, and 2.45 billion in Germany.

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