By James Atkinson

Chinese demand for Australian wines will recover from a government crackdown on gift giving and banquets, according to Australia's First Families of Wine (AFFW) chairman Mitchell Taylor.

Taylor spoke to TheShout following the recent tour by AFFW members of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, which comprised a gruelling schedule of 17 promotional events in 10 days.

He said the local wine industry remains upbeat about the prospects for premium and masstige wines, with China's tough market conditions likely to subside over the next 12 months.

"Some of the gifting that was occurring was of rare expensive wines at the very top end – they may not be requested as much," Taylor said.

"We were there with all the business leaders and they were still talking about Chinese New Year coming up, they were still talking about looking for quality, well-packaged premium wines."

"There's still a lot of interest and a lot of potential orders that were coming out of the activities that we were doing," he said.

Taylor said the trip had been hugely successful in consolidating what AFFW is about, "which is taking a leadership position for Australian wine and really talking about our heritage and our tradition and our quality at the top end".

"That was extremely well received with the Chinese because they respect family, they respect heritage and tradition, and they also respected the fact that we were there to build long-term relationships with them," he said.

Quality message getting through

Taylor said the quality of Australian wine was reinforced for Chinese decision makers at the recent China Wine and Spirit Awards, where his family's company picked up a swathe of gold medals for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling entries, and Australian wineries performed strongly overall.

"They're seeing it in their top end results," he said.

And during the AFFW trip, Taylor said Australia took out the first three placings in a France versus Australia blind tasting of 24 wines.

While Chinese consumers are still focused predominately on Australia's red wines, Taylor said there is increasing interest in white wines such as Hunter Semillon and Clare Valley Riesling for pairing with Chinese food.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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