France’s Rhone wine region exported 7% more wines representing 8% increase by value last year thanks to fast growths in the Chinese and US markets, according to latest figures released by the region’s wine trade body InterRhone.
In its annual overview of the region, InterRhone reports that total export topped 2.7 million hectolitres (mhl) in 2017. Export to China increased by a whopping 50% by volume and 43% by value. While exports to the US increased by 19% in volume and 21% in value.
Despite seeing fast growths some in overseas markets, the European Union remains the top market for Rhone wines. Sixty-two percent of its wines were exported to European markets. The next biggest market is the US accounting for 22% and Asia accounts for 12%.
The biggest single market remains the UK and this is despite a decline of 3% in volume and 4% in value. The second biggest single market, Belgium, also saw volume and value decline 3% and 6% respectively.
Germany is a rare bright spot in European markets with volume up 8% and value up 11%.
Rhone is a region of diversity providing consumers with a wide variety of wine styles. It has wines with finesse typical of the old world as well as bold ripe fruit high alcohol style reminiscent of the new world.
In China, Rhone wines are marketed as wines for families and friends, highlighting their approachability.
According to Brieg Lemetayer, China brand ambassador for InterRhone, in addition to well known regions like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and St. Joseph, some lesser known regions were also generating interest.
Riding on the popularity of Australian Shiraz blends in China, Cornas in northern Rhone where Syrah (Shiraz in Australia) is the main grape variety benefits from Chinese consumers’ familiarity with the grape variety. Many consumers would like to try the original taste of the variety and are prepared to try wine from Cornas.
For southern Rhone, Lemetayer said, Gigondas wine is very sought after in northern China where consumers prefer wines with high alcohol level.
(the writer can be contacted at: SusanLewis@thewinechronicle.com)