London, March 23 (IANS) Britain's oldest wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR) has announced it has become the first major retailer in the country to sell Chinese wine.
The 314-year-old wine merchant said it would sell four wines from leading Chinese winemaker Changyu alongside the finest offering from Bordeaux and Burgundy, reported Xinhua.
The four wines are 2008 Chateau Changyu Moser XV, Ningxia; Chateau Changyu Gold Label Ice Wine, Liaoning; Chateau Changyu Blue Label Ice Wine, Liaoning; and Chateau Changyu Black Label Ice Wine, Liaoning, with the price ranging from 19 pounds ($29) to 65 pounds.
The four Chinese wine varieties will be for sale alongside the finest wines from around the world including Ch. Petrus from Bordeaux and Domainee-conti from Burgundy in BBR stores and website, it said in a statement.
A group of connoisseurs will taste the four wines. The ice wines are made from frozen grapes, which give the wines a fresh and pure flavour and an intense sweetness.
BBR buying director Mark Pardoe said: "China is already the eighth largest producer of wine in the world so it was only a matter of time before it entered the international market and its huge geographical size and range of climates mean that there must be regions capable of producing good wine."
"Until now the country's focus has been on its volume-driven domestic market, and other export efforts have based on external investment. Changyu's strategy represents a change, with home-grown investment in partnership with international expertise, with a real will to get things done," he said.
"We expect to taste wine of great quality from more Chinese producers," said Pardoe.
BBR, a supplier to the royal family since the reign of King George III, now has shops in London and Basingstoke, as well as business in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan and duty free presence in Dubai. Its range comprises over 3,000 wines and services.
China is predicted to become the sixth largest wine maker in the world by 2016, and Chinese consumers drink over 1.6 billion bottles of wine annually, which is forecast to grow by a further 1 billion by 2015.
"The Chinese have also acquired a taste of fine wine. They are now the second biggest buyers of top Claret by volume behind Germany," according to the BBR statement.