Argentine wines advance over Chile in the conquest of China

The market. China buys about US $12 million in wines abroad. Argentina and Chile, along with South Africa and the United States, foresee joint marketing activities. They will launch the New World Alliance.

Judas, an Argentine red from Bodega Sottano is the best wine in the world to accompany roast duck, the emblematic dish of Chinese cuisine, according to an Asian jury that awarded this distinction at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, held between 3 and 6 November.

Judas was lauded by the jury of the International Wine Competition that takes place at this Fair, having been chosen from among 1,289 wines from 23 countries, including China. Another 37 Argentine wines, as well as 18 Chilean wines, also received awards from the Asian judges. "If our flagship wine has the personality to accompany such a traditional dish, it means that the Asian palate will be prepared to interpret what we want Judas and the rest of our wines to give to the Asian consumer," said Sebastian Olalla, commercial director of the winery.

Argentina exported wines to Hong Kong worth US $1.68 billion in 2008, said Andrew Maidment, manager for the UK and Asia at Wines of Argentina, an entity that brings together the producers of that country. In the first nine months of 2009, US $1.78 million worth of wines were sold in this territory. Maidment estimates sales of US $2.5 million this year, an increase of 50% over the previous year. In mainland China, sales of US $4.4 million are forecasted.

21 Argentine wineries were represented at the Fair in Hong Kong. The other major wine-producing South American country, Chile, was represented by 11 producers. Between January and August 2008, Chile's sales in Hong Kong were $6.5 million, according to Wines of Chile, an association of wine producers in that country. In the same period in 2009, the sales grew 6.6% to 6.96 million. Meanwhile, the Chinese market demand was 12.13 million in the same period.

"The investment that is being done in Chile is tremendous," said Arnaud Frenet, business manager of Viña Casa Silva, a winery that sells high-end products. "In Hong Kong we can have a strategy similar to the US because the market is much more mature," said Frenet. "The same will happen in Singapore or perhaps in Japan."

"The Chinese market is very difficult for us because we are not very competitive in terms of price," said the businessman. "Our strategy has been to partner with people who teach about wine, which allows us to enter into market segments where people are willing to pay more for a quality product," said Frenet.

*From Hong Kong (AFP).

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