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Moët sparkles in China

Moët Hennessy has launched wines from their Chandon winery in Ningxia, the first Chinese winery focused exclusively on sparkling wine.

According to International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR), consumption of sparkling wine has rocketed in China over recent years, from 3.7 million bottles in 2009 to over 13 million last year.

Speaking to the Boston Globe, Shen Yang, director of Moët Hennessy’s Chandon winery in the Ningxia region of China’s northwest, explained some of the reasons behind the growth in sparkling wine demand: ‘‘More and more young people, more and more white-collar employees, office ladies, enjoy wine and also sparkling wine.”

‘‘We will bring this wine to the dinner tables, into the home, and into the life of these young and energetic people,’’ said Shen.

Shen said sparkling wine sales have also been given a boost from an unlikely source in the Chinese governments austerity measures that have hurt sales of high end spirits but focused the attention of more sophisticated drinkers on wine.

China is the fifth biggest consumer of wine in the world and, while red wine still dominates the market, according to Jim Boyce, a China-based wine blogger, sparkling wines are seen as contemporary: ‘‘When you look at what people actually like to drink, what they enjoy, white wine does very well, and increasingly sparkling wine does very well.’’

In an unusual step the Chinese government has allowed Moët Hennessy full ownership of the winery where foreign producers are usually forced to work through joint ventures with local partners.

But, in an effort to promote growth in the wine industry, foreign companies who build wineries are allowed to own them for 70 years under a new initiative.

The Boston Globe reported Moët Hennessy has plans to sell around 70,000 bottles of its 2012 vintage from Ningxia this year.

They intend to increase production to meet predicted demand of 250,000 bottles next year and 300,000 bottles in 2016.

The Chinese made sparkling style has been altered slightly and made with less acidity than normal to suit the local pallet according to said Gloria Xia, a winemaker at the Ningxia winery: ‘‘We would stress the aroma and the texture would be very fresh and more balanced.”

WSET student numbers hit new high

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust has broken a new record for student numbers in the latest academic year despite a slowdown in growth rates within China.

According to figures released on Friday, as many as 56,215 candidates took one of the WSET’s examinations in the academic year ending last month, representing a 16% increase on the previous academic period.

“WSET continues to go from strength to strength, and a figure in excess of 56,000 students clearly makes WSET the biggest organisation of its kind in the world,” said Ian Harris, chief executive of the education provider.

Continuing he said, “Much of our growth in the five years up to 2013 was driven by the boom in Greater China, but along with many of the multinational wine and spirit companies, we have seen a slowdown in the growth rate – particularly in mainland China.

“I am therefore particularly pleased that the student numbers in all of WSET’s top 10 markets, including China, showed double-digit growth in 2013/14 versus the previous year, demonstrating the universal appeal of WSET programs, both for professionals within the global industry and also for consumers who are keen to learn more about the wide variety of wines and spirits being produced around the world”.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is the largest global provider of qualifications in the field of wines and spirits, with courses available in 62 countries and in 18 languages.