By Felicity Carter for Meininger’s Wine Business International
Ice wine from Chinese wine producer Changyu will be served on Lufthansa’s first class Asian routes, beginning in Autumn 2012. This follows the success of the Changyu Cabernet D’Est in penetrating Europe’s markets.
“We are very successful with these wines in Belgium,” says Lenz Moser, owner of importer TxB International Fine Wines. He says that Changyu wines are now listed in the Belgian supermarket Delhaize.
Changyu is no newcomer to the world of wine. Founded in 1892, the winery has always been significant in Chinese wine history, attracting visits from Communist Party leaders as a matter of course, including Mao Tse Tung. Today, it is the largest winemaking enterprise in Asia, with more than 4,000 employees. Listed on the stock exchange, the Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Company and subsidiaries, located in Yantai City, not only produces wine and brandy, but also fruit wines and other beverages.
Moser said Changyu’s first European market was France, where they are distributed by Castel. At the beginning, however, the wines did not attract repeat orders. After intensive work to improve wine quality, “the wines are flying." Moser says that Delhaize has “ordered five times since the start of the campaign in September.”
The Chanyu Cabernet D’Est is made from Cabernet Gernischt, a cross between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, a hybrid that appears to be Chinese. The company hopes that its vineyards will achieve certified organic status by 2013, helping to boost its image internationally.
As traditional wine markets like the UK become more difficult, wine producers are looking to China as a promising new market. China itself, however, is now the world’s fifth largest producer of wine and also has export ambitions. In 2008 it produced 698m litres of wine, up from 665.1m litres the year before.