Queen's wine merchant to stock Chinese tipples

Wine merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd, has given its stamp approval to Chinese wines, becoming the first major British retailer to give tipples from the country a permanent place on its shelves.

From this week, four Chinese wines from the Chateau Changyu will be for sale at Berry Bros, the 314-year-old wine merchant and vintners to the Queen.

Chateau Changyu sits under the umbrella of the Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, China's oldest and largest winery.

Chinese tipples on sale at Berry Bros include a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, which has been aged in imported French oak barrels, and three ice wines that are made from frozen grapes.

Berry Bros' decision to tap into the Chinese wine industry follows Waitrose trialling Chinese wines last year and underlines China's burgeoning taste for fine wines.

Chinese consumers already drink more than 1.6bn bottles of wine a year and that is forecast to grow by a further 1bn by 2015.

China is now the eighth-largest producer of wine in the world and the country is the second-biggest buyer of top Claret by volume behind Germany.

China's wines will now sit on Berry Bros' shelves alongside some of the finest wines from around the world, including Chateau Petrus from Bordeaux and Domaine Romanée-Conti from Burgundy.

“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," said Mark Pardoe, buying director at Berry Bros.

“Until now the country’s focus has been on its volume-driven domestic market, and other export efforts have been based on external investment," he added.

"Changyu’s strategy represents a change, with home-grown investment in partnership with international expertise, with a real will to get things done, so the time felt right to take an early temperature of the water.”