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Australian winemaker excited about re-entry of bottled wine into Chinese market

Xinhua by Zhang Na, Zhang Jianhua30/03/2024  

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Kym Teusner, a winery owner, watches the fermentation of grapes after crushing and pressing in Barossa Valley in South Australia on March 12, 2024.

Chris Thomas, managing director and chief winemaker of the winery of Dowie Doole in South Australia's McLaren Vale, still remembered going to a wine fair in China's Guangzhou in 2012.

"Lots of people were very interested in the wines, and since then the market has really grown for Dowie Doole," said Thomas who has spent a lot of time visiting the wine tasting rooms in various parts of China, doing wine education and tastings with Chinese people.

Thomas has made friends with those people and cannot wait to go back to China to see them.

TARRIFS LIFTED

China's Ministry of Commerce announced on Thursday that the country will lift anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Australian wine from Friday.

Australia welcomed China's decision to lift anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Australian wine, which comes at a critical time for the Australian wine industry, said an Australian government statement.

The re-entry of Australian bottled wine into the Chinese market will benefit both Australian producers and Chinese consumers, the statement said.

Australia's wine exports to China were worth 1.1 billion Australian dollars (some 713 million U.S. dollars) in 2019. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in the wine region of Hunter Valley in the north of Sydney on Thursday that the resumption of trade will see an even higher amount.

The wine industry employs hundreds of thousands of people if tourism and other industries were taken into account, Albanese said, adding, "Trade is about Australian jobs."

READY FOR RE-ENTRY

Thomas was thrilled at the news, saying the re-entry of Australian bottled wine into the Chinese market means he can come back and visit his friends and business partners in China, and celebrating that over a glass of wine.

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Kym Teusner, a winery owner, checks the wine's aging process, in Barossa Valley in Barossa Valley in South Australia on March 12, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhang Jianhua)

Crushing grapes until 4 a.m. on Friday, he was chatting to his friends and customers in China at the mean time and trying to organize a visit and start sending wine back to customers there.

During the last Chinese New Year, he had a celebration by calling his friends in China and having a virtual glass of wine together.

"As soon as the vintage is finished and I'm able to leave my vineyard and my winery, I'll be back in China instead of just virtually catching up (with friends)," he said, adding he is looking forward to sharing Australian wine with Chinese hospitality, food and friends.

Coonawarra, another boutique wine region in South Australia, is known for the local Cabernet Sauvignon wine. A Chinese private enterprise has acquired the long-established, large-scale winery, Rymill Coonawarra.

As Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is very popular in China, all the original technical staff of the winery have been retained to continue the tradition and style of local wines, said Rymill Coonawarra General Manager Li Jie.

Li told Xinhua on Friday that they will assist more local wineries to invest in China and expand the Chinese-Australian wine trade.

UNDERSTANDING AUSTRALIAN WINE

The wine of Dowie Doole has a vibrancy of fruit flavor thanks to the sunshine and the short distance to the Indian Ocean, Thomas said.

The ocean cools the vineyard in South Australia during the day and keeps it warmer at night so it provides these beautiful fruit characters, he said.

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Photo taken on March 13, 2024, shows the harvesting scene in a vineyard in South Australia. (Xinhua/Zhang Jianhua)

Thomas suggested his favorite grenache, which is the lightest red wine they make, goes well particularly with the crawfish, or Xiao Long Xia in Chinese.

The Chinese spicy hot pot goes actually quite well with the Shiraz, which has a bit of pepper flavor, he said, adding generally a white wine or rose in particular goes really well with seafood.

"No wine no culture. It is great to have a conversation over a glass of wine, and you create true friends over a glass or two of wine," Thomas said, adding "I've had many glasses of wine with my friends in China, and I look forward to having some more again soon."