The Wine War—France Vs. Italy

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With a European market that has recently started flattening out, it seems that Asia is the new “go to” market for wine producers.

China is undoubtedly the most established market in Asia for European wine distributors, and France has always been the main supplier. Now, Italy has taken notice and isn’t going to play nice.

Recently, at the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, organizers announced a partnership with the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. This venture will allow both companies to promote each other’s activities. This means Vinitaly will push for Italian winemakers to promote their brands at Hong Kong events.

This doesn’t mean a sinking ship for France. This is only a starting point for Italy, as France exported 5.5 million cases of wine to China in the first six months of last year. This accounted for 48 percent of wine imports for China (compared with only 8.3 percent from Italy).

Italy is the number one producer for wine imported by the United States, mostly due to cultural ties. China isn’t as easy a market to crack. It’s known for being a country more concerned with luxury and status, and brand name products, which is the main factor for consumers’ taste of fine French wine.

Italy has iconic wine, but not many that can rival the high-end demand for top Bordeaux. The Italians have recognized this, and have partnered with the Altagamma Foundation, known for representing Italian luxury goods and fashion houses. With this new partnership, Italian wines will be featured at luxury, world-wide events, giving Italy the boost it needs in the high-end market, and is sure to promote and build a stronger reputation for Italy’s great vintages.

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