CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Mao Yaqing
As one of the "New World" wine producers, Australia has gained a sound reputation for its fine wine industry in the past few years. Although its output is not significant, it dominates quite a large share of the international market thanks to the large number of bottles it exports to Asia, especially China. CRI Australia Correspondent Chen Xi has more.
It is widely known that Australia's economy relies mainly on exports of iron ore and other natural resources. But some believe that the country's growing wine industry will also be a significant contributor to the country's economy in terms of production, employment and exports.
Like its peers Argentina, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, Australia belongs to the group of "New World" wine manufacturers whose wines are produced outside traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and the Middle East.
For Aussie grape growers, the unique taste of Australian wines thanks to the country's vast geographical area makes them the most proud.
"They are doing a lot of handpicking and handcrafting in the wild. They are trying to tell our customers that we are making wines in a very different style. We are making them on a small scale from individual vineyards and from plots within the vineyards."
"I think Australian wine is very different. I think the wine from the onsite. we have not tried as people might have in other parts of the world, to duplicate wines of other countries. We make very different wines here."
"Because we are bigger than Europe, we have the most incredible range of soil in which to work. So we can make wines that sort of got incredible regional character."
Through years of hard work, Australian wine manufacturers have earned a reputation for being able to blend traditional winemaking processes with innovations in bottling, grape breeding and growing technologies, including vine canopies.
As for the raw materials of its fine wine, Australia produces both red and white grape varieties. Of the red grape, the most celebrated are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The major kinds of white grapes are Chardonnay, Semillon and Riesling.
There are more than 50 winegrowing areas in Australia, covering most states such as Queensland and Tasmania. Most Aussie vines are concentrated in the states of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
The number of grape varieties and wide range of planting areas have made the country the fourth-largest wine exporter in the world. Facing the so-called "Century of Asia," Australian wine producers have all cast their eyes to the region, especially the largest market, China.
At present, more than 1,000 Australian wine brands are available in China, which is Australia's fastest-growing market and fourth-largest export market by value after the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada.
Chinese consumers have shown a strong but sophisticated and diverse interest for imported spirits and fine wines, especially high-priced ones. Figures indicate that more than 4.2 million bottles of Australian wine valued at 600 yuan, or nearly 100 Australian dollars, each were sold in China between 2010 and 2011.
Some experts predict the numbers will be more significant in the future, as wine drinking in China becomes more commonplace. Tony Spawton is a professor at the University of South Australia.
"The return from China, I would suggest, is going to be a long time in the future. You know it's an enormous market, but the adoption of wine as a product beyond the novelty stage, which it is currently at, is going to take a while."
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