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Ten years ago, on a trip with friends to New York’s Finger Lakes wine country, I bought a few bottles of bubbly.
I was not a pseudo-wine-pro back then; I was an avid consumer (that term still applies!), and the majority of my vacation travel was centered around wine exploration. I had a budding interest, passionate zeal, and I knew what I liked though I would have had a lot more trouble telling you why, or explaining how, a wine I liked got to that point.
It was one of those gorgeous sunny Autumn days that was quickly turning into a chilly Autumn evening (no sun = no heat) and most of the Finger Lakes tasting rooms were closed or moments-away-from closing; we happened upon what was then a joint-producer tasting room featuring only local sparkling wines.
I knew what I liked, and I really liked the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut that evening. So, my girlfriend and I bought some.
Ten years later, at the surprise 50th birthday party of one of dear friends (who helped us greatly in getting through the tough times leading up to the recent loss of our Weimaraner, Samson, and to whom we gave a bottle of 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio so you know we love her), I had occasion to open the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut – Dr. Frank is one of the birthday girl’s favorite wine producers (alongside the most recent offering of Chateau Frank’s non-vintage Riesling sparkler, Célèbre Cremant).
And it rocked.
The fruit had started to subside a bit, but what remained was bready, lively, and wonderful; still fresh, still food-friendly, still (in the words of Simple Minds) Alive & Kicking.
An apt comparison, it turns out, for the state of NY wine in general…
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Asia, as most of you are already aware, is THE NEXT BIG THING in wine consumption. China, of course, is the current big thing in Asia, which means that the Chinese market is THE NEXT BIG THING in wine consumption. So big, it must be stated IN ALL CAPS!
This is not news – it’s all over the place in print and on-line. Most of the talk of the Chinese market in the wine community is cloudy, amorphous, and short on understanding of the real scope of the potential dollars involved. And the real scope is real, real BIG.
Here’s a recent quote from Wines-Info.com on Chinese wine consumption trends, to give you some perspective on what a bold, capitalized and italicized BIG represents:
“The current situation in China is that domestic wine production doesn’t meet its market’s need, which has resulted in surge growth of imported wine. Statistics show that imported bottled wine to China has increased 2368% since 2002 to 2009. With bigger number of Chinese enterprises joining to wine importing business, more foreign vintners and wineries from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, U.S., Chile, Argentina, etc. also step into Chinese market, sharing the hope of wine bonanza in China.”
No, that’s not a typo. That’s an increase of over two thousand percent of wine coming in from other countries to fill the demand created by the emergence of a bona-fide middle class in the Chinese economy. In less than ten years. YOWZA.
My bruthah-from-anothah-muthah Jeff Lefevere over at the award-winning GoodGrape.com, recently highlighted some of the Chinese wine market numbers – and they’re similarly downright shocking:
“It’s anybody’s guess how China will impact the domestic wine business, but we know that the existing auction market and Bordeaux futures are largely being driven by the Chinese. According to reports, US wine exports to Hong Kong totaled $49 million in 2009-2010. And, it’s been said that the U.S. wants to be the number one exporter of wine to Hong Kong and mainland China.”
That’s a fair chunk of change – and an impressive commitment by the U.S. And one in which I think they should be deeply cautious, because our businesses are so busy looking at the dollar signs that they aren’t seeing the imprisonments, tortures, and executions that made those dollar signs so big…
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Special Report from the IP (Inebriated Press) – Constellactus, devourer of wine brands, appears to be heading towards Earth, with dire consequences for the planet’s wine industries.
Fueled by the mysterious “power cosmic” and a recent rise in market share, Constellactus Brands – devourer of wine brands and the largest wine producer in the known Universe – is expected to reach Earth in a matter of days, say world scientist and wine industry analysts.
“At this point, we know Constellactus is coming and we strongly suspect that he is interested in the wine brands of Napa,” Napa Valley Vintners Association Executive Director Linda Reiff told reporters yesterday at a hastily-organized press conference held at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA. “What we don’t know what brands here will survive – if any at all.”
The wine industries in Napa and Sonoma have been sent into near-chaos this week after multiple reports of local sightings of The Silver Surfer, Constellactus’ primary brand ambassador. It is widely believed within the global wine industry that the appearance of the Silver Surfer heralds doom for the independent wine brands of that local area. When pressed about whether or not the Sonoma wine industry – which has yet to respond publicly to the coming threat – should also be concerned about the coming of Constellactus, Reiff responded, “I am not aware of a wine industry in Sonoma… but if they are making wine there, then they ought to be very, very concerned right now. All we know is, wherever the Surfer goes, two weeks later that wine industry dies.”
Constellactus is widely feared throughout the known Universe for its seemingly insatiable ability to devour a planet’s entire population of wine brands, in some cases leaving the Profit and Loss statements of those brands a mere husk of their former selves and laying waste to their market positions.
The Surfer was last seen on Sunday, flying low across the sky in the Carneros region which straddles both the Napa and Sonoma American Viticultural Areas (AVA). At first mistaken to be a plane or some type of experimental aircraft, the Surfer eventually slowed down his flight to the point where it could be photographed and confirmed to be the harbinger of its galactic master, Constellation. The Surfer was largely unresponsive to the mass of reporters seeking comment and asking questions about the intentions of Constellactus, pausing only on Sunday afternoon to address the media with the cryptic statement, “All the wine that you know, is about to end,” before speedily taking flight towards the East…
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