Disclaimer: I am not a wine expert! The information as I present is reflective of my experiences in marketing, natural sciences, and common sense. Grounded skepticism is an essential skill.
Thought I should share this. It looks like another "buzz push" which is a cleaver advertising technique and I will explain my opinions in the following TLTR (too long to read) post.
It's is a lot like what happened to me when over a year ago I watched a piece through CNN about a service called Hola
where at the time it was claimed to be a safe way to circumvent information firewalls (internet censorship). They really sold the idea to me. Long story short, that article was a bit of a clever lie. Yeah, instead the program was a Trojan horse to make my computer become a slave to a botnet or mine Bitcoins for someone else using my computers resources and spare bandwidth which you can read about the plot here
. Anyways, it is real geeky stuff and I am not trying to go on a tangent here but I learned my lesson. The media, even from reputable sources can be deceiving. It is a marketing tool essentially selling ideas to people and that is a huge industry of questionable ethics.
Back to the topic, I have noticed a similar pattern of marketing buzz lately regarding Chinese wine. Lately it is from CBS News and other networks. In this case, I suspect other interests are involved than merely a wine connoisseur discussing her love for wine in her updated book
. You can watch the video here and draw your own conclusions. Karen MacNeil is author of a popular and reputable book "The Wine Bible
" and by all credible accounts she is an expert among her peers. Personally I find her behavior odd in the video
because she is really selling the Chinese wine rather than appearing as an unbiased judge of quality. To be fair, it could be the editor's intent to selectively orchestrate the tone of the video and communicate a more positive perspective. Still, I suspect she is acting as a paid consultant and public relations rep. There is a lot of money going into developing this market in China and if they produce a quality product great but I have reservations. Some backstory, China is now the 5th largest producer of wine in the world but they have difficulty penetrating the world market. It is no secret, China has piss poor PR for quality and consumer confidence but for good reason you can read elsewhere. Wine is a connoisseur market that is fiercely competitive. The more lucrative markets demands quality so branding and reputation are paramount to expanding business, least the success of a few wineries may help by association the rest of the Chinese industry.
There are about 80,000 acres of vineyards under cultivation in Ningxia and they plan to expand to 160,000 acres by 2020. Looking at this from an ecological sense, I think the Chinese are making some of the same mistakes that their Californian competitors made. Yes, land in an arid desert is cheap and plentiful but water is not. Least, I have little doubt that China will experience the same issues of high levels of arsenic levels in their wines due to where they sourced their water. The deeper you go in the ground the more likely you get the heavier "old water". If not from the ground, where can one get clean water? Still, from my understanding the dry lands in Ningxia, which is roughly 500 miles west of Beijing, have had an infusion of "fresh" water from government-sponsored water projects. Here is the problem with that, China's has ecological regulations that are near nonexistent unlike in Europe and the USA.
The air quality is so bad that more affluent Chinese are sending their children to abroad
to raise them in fresh air to avoid severe health issues. Because of this not even the rain can be considered clean when it is loaded with dioxins or other industrial contaminants. Also roughly 70 percent of the energy is generated by China is from coal. Geographically, the coal industry has a strong presence near many of these vineyards. So yes, I will have my doubts on the quality of the product despite what a taste tester author sells me.