New opportunities for Australian wine revealed at ProWine China 2018 Posted by: Alana House November 16, 2018 Chinese interest in Australian white wine is finally awakening according to a Barossa winemaker who attended ProWine China 2018 this week. A record-breaking 18,900 visitors joined the trade fair this year, which held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. John Retsas from First Drop Wines said: "It’s still skewed very heavily towards red wine…the Chinese palate is one of strong voluptuous flavours so Shiraz, Cabernets, those bigger bolder styles still dominate, but we are seeing growing interest in white wine which is perfect." First Drop has been supplying wine to China since 2004. "The last 14 years we’ve seen a massive shift in the wine economy in China from selling wine to traders to building brands….either online or direct to consumer via retail and on-premise," Retsas added. "We’re seeing the formation of a really sophisticated route to market and a more sophisticated consumer base. The opportunities are significant, there are opportunities online …and a massive opportunity in fine wine collectors gifting and on premise." Wine Australia’s largest-ever pavilion showcased Australia’s booming wine sector in our biggest export market by value – with the support of the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package (the $50m Package). A record 47 exhibitors showcased 90 wine brands – compared to 40 brands in 2017 – from more than 20 wine regions across Australia, including Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Beechworth, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley, Geographe, Great Southern, Henty, Hunter Valley, Langhorne Creek, Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Mornington Peninsula, Mount Benson, Murray Darling, Nagambie Lakes, Orange, Perth Hills, Pyrenees, Rutherglen, Tasmania, Upper Goulburn and Yarra Valley. Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said: "China is such a critical market so it was great to see our pavilion jam-packed with Chinese wine trade, hearing the stories of our wineries and learning about the diversity of styles available. "Thanks to the $50m Package, we were able to hit the trade show en masse and give wineries the opportunity to bolster relationships with existing clients or connect with prospective partners face-to-face – be they importers, distributors, wine merchants or food and beverage managers. "Between the 47 exhibitors, 6 in-pavilion tastings, 2 master classes and a seminar on cutting-edge wine business technology, the “Australian Wine Made Our Way” themed pavilion was bustling with activity," he said. In-pavilion tasting classes explored: >> The 'next wave' of Shiraz from Victoria – including Heathcote, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Beechworth, Rutherglen, Grampians and Pyrenees. >> Margaret River's emergence as a world-class region for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon alternative varieties – exploring the diversity of McLaren Vale wines. >> A lasting journey exploring the Barossa's diverse palette of varieties, flavours and textures. >> A tribute to NSW's Riverina Durif as the 'best unknown red wine in Australia'. >> A world of unique elegance' unveiled by Victorian Pinot Noir. The public master classes showcased rare and distinguished Barossa varieties, blends, estates, single vineyards and flagship releases; and the history and tradition of premium McLaren Vale Shiraz, along with ‘New Age’ trendsetters. Exhibitor Damian Shaw, Managing Director of Philip Shaw Wines in Orange said: "There’s a good strength of Australians representing in this market. We’ve been coming here now for eight years and education is at the forefront of what we do as a country…I think the market’s rewarded us already over the last eight years." Helen McCarthy from Mountadam Vineyards in Eden Valley added: "Relationships are really important, especially in the China market where they’re key to doing business…and it’s important for us to come and support our importer in building those relationships. "In some of the tastings I’ve done external to ProWine, it’s been quite a generational change. A lot of younger excited people are learning about wine. It’s just so different to 10 years ago." Matthew Bahen, General Manager Sales, Greater China, DeBortoli Wines said, ‘There’s great visitation and we’re seeing some good people coming through. It seems every year the knowledge of Chinese wine trade grows, their questions become more comprehensive, more discerning…We’ve got a multi distributional platform based around a dozen importers…so for us we’re really looking to help them further their reach to help find customers.