As the ninth HKDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair kicks off, exports of wine from Hong Kong are rising as we speak, uncovering many wine opportunities. By Wanda Augustyn
Hong Kong has a pivotal role as wine trading hub in Asia. In the first eight months of this year the city’s wine exports rose 37.6% compared to the same period in 2015 to HK$ 3.8 billion, while imports increased 26% over the same period to HK$8.2 billion.
This year 1 067 exhibitors from 37 countries are riding on Hong Kong’s advantage as a free wine port. This means a splendid array of wines, spirits and beers from different worlds are available to various buyers.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Benjamin Chau, acting executive director, HKTDC, highlighted the diverse characteristics of the international Wine & Spirits Fair. “Featuring more than 1 060 exhibitors from 37 countries and regions, this is an effective international promotion platform.”
The success of the fair is due to a variety of factors, he explained. “Zero duties on Hong Kong wine imports since 2008, a large international exhibitor presence, international buyers (especially wine importers from Asia), high value-added business opportunities and networking activities including grand tasting sessions, master classes, wine tastings, cocktail demonstrations, as well as seminars.”
Highlights on day one
A wine from Israel counts as one, made in a country with 5 000 years of winemaking history. The Armagedon is made by Hevron Heights and brewed using traditional methods. Using grapes growing on the Judean Mountains at high altitude and aged for 24 months in French oak barrels, this one is regarded as kosher.
Another highlight was a Bulgarian orange wine from Wine Cellar Villa Melnik. This dry and intense wine (not made from oranges) is darker in colour which resulted from extended contact of white grape juice with grape skins over a longer period of time.
The Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye from Canada was a surprise discovery. This is the first Canadian whisky to earn a title in the authoritative Jim Murray’s Annual Whisky Bible with almost full marks and it was named World Whisky of the Year in 2016.
The wine industry conference “Uncover the opportunities of the new cool climate wine trend” is, however, my pick of the bunch.
With international renowned speakers from the industry like Debra Meiburg, MW, British wine expert and writer Robert Joseph, prof Ma Huiqin of the Department of Fruit Tree Sciences, College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, as well as group head of wine, Hakkasan Group, Christine Parkinson and leading French wine critic and writer Michel Bettane the unveiling potential of cool climate wines in the on- and off-trade in different markets was discussed intensively. (See in depth article in WineLand February issue)