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One of China’s most respected wine experts says New Zealand is in a good position to begin capturing the imagination of China’s aspirational consumers.
International guest judge at this year’s Hawke’s Bay A & P Mercedes Benz Wine Awards Fongyee Walker says as China’s market develops she hopes to see a greater growing appreciation for the high quality and diversity of New Zealand wine. 
Ms Walker, who is one of China’s most respected wine educators and critics, said it was important that New Zealand’s wine industry was patient when looking at the untapped potential of the Chinese market.
“As a market, China is still very immature, and selling sustainably in China requires hard work and graft from importers and from wineries.” 
Ms Walker hopes her visit to Hawke’s Bay in September will show her more of the diversity and development of the region’s wines so she can share her experience back in China.
 “What really attracts me to New Zealand is the balance between lovely refreshing acidity and full fruit flavours that I find very attractive and particularly good with many different Chinese foods.
“As a judge, I am very interested in the wide range of wines produced from Hawke’s Bay and I want to understand more about the region so I can recommend it as a beautiful place to escape the pollution or to find some of my particularly favourite, syrah.
“The ripeness, softer yet still refreshing acidity of Hawke’s Bay’s whites, the structure of the region’s reds with ripe tannins and good fruit, yet elegant structure, are great attributes for Chinese wine consumers.
“I’d like to use my experience to explain and introduce Hawke’s Bay wines more to my friends, students and clients,” she says. 
Ms Walker said New Zealand wines do seem to please Chinese consumers and that the greater degree of warmth in Hawke’s Bay wines made them even more pleasing. 
“When I show Hawke’s Bay wines to my students, I get very positive feedback on the whole – particularly for the more premium wines. 
Her advice to Hawke’s Bay is to create a cohesive identity and promote this in China, emphasise the attributes that make Hawke’s Bay a unique region in New Zealand and ideally also piggy-back on the generally positive image that New Zealand has with China.
“You need good ambassadors who are willing to travel and talk about the positive attributes of the region.”
She also encouraged Hawke’s Bay to become a “buzz region” on social media – like Weibo, which is very important in China. 
Joining Fongyee will be Australian wine expert and buyer Peter Nixon, and New Zealand judges, wine makers Rod Easthope, of Easthope Vineyards, and Dave McKee, of Blackbarn Vineyards, freelance wine writer Rebecca Gibb and Matt Dellar from the Fine Wine Delivery Company.
Tickets to the gala awards dinner are on sale now.  For more information go to
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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