Chinese wines are 'average' ... let's break out the champagne!

Chinese wines are 'average' ... let's break out the champagne!

Not often do you get to celebrate mediocrity, but when it comes to Chinese wines we must, with Robert Parker's website ranking 18 of 20 varietals as just about drinkable

Chinese wines -- grace vineyardGrace's Chairman’s Reserve received 85 points, coming in as one of the best Chinese wines on the market.Although Chinese wines frequently get a bum rap, as Chinese domestic production skyrockets, international experts are finally starting to see if these reputations actually have any merit. 

On Robert Parker's wine website, vino expert Lisa Perrotti-Brown reviewed 20 Chinese wines from Grace Vineyard, Dynasty and Silver Heights (the smallest producer of the bunch and the least well-known even domestially) -- amazingly enough, 18 passed the taste test as at least "average." 

Score one for Chinese wines.

The Grape Wall of China picked up the ratings, noting that nine wines scored from above average to good (80-89 points out of 100), and another nine came in at the 70 to 79 point range (average). 

At this point, and with a rather lackluster reputation for Chinese wines, the industry should be well pleased with “average” and run with it.

Perrotti-Brown did stack the glasses a bit in China’s favor as Grace Vineyard and Silver Heights are really the only two vineyards in China of international note, posts Jim Boyce

How Dynasty passed, we aren't so sure.

The top two ranking wines were Grace's Chairman’s Reserve (RMB 488) at 85 points and Grace's Deep Blue (RMB 288), which came in at 83 points.

"We are happy to be rated as the best white and red wines in Robert Parker's wine website by wine expert Lisa Perrotti-Brown," says Grace Vineyard Marketing Manager Phoebe Goh.

"Our commitment to quality has paid off and we will continue to focus on improving the quality of our wines to raise them to the next level," she continues.

Grace Vineyard also produced the only two bottles that didn’t pass the 70 point mark, the Grace Premium Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (2008) and the Grace Cabernet Sauvignon (2008).

Although Chinese wine only fared marginally well on this recent international taste test, the demand for Chinese wine is increasing. China produced 72 million cases of wine in 2009, an increase of 28 percent from 2008, according to a recent report by French wine exhibition organizers Vinexpo.

If China keeps producing wine at its current growth rate, the country will generate 128 million cases of wine by the end of 2012, an increase of 77 percent that would see it overtake more established New World wine nations such as Australia, which has a forecast of 121 million cases.

Much of this growth in the demand for Chinese wine though comes from the domestic market.

"Some Chinese labels have exhibited internationally and sold a tiny amount of wine,” says Denis Gastin, a commercial wine writer who regularly travels to China.

“But that is not the focus of the industry at the moment. The motivation was more to show Chinese drinkers local growers could compete internationally.”

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

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