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Hong Kong MW calls for clarification

Asia’s first Master of Wine warns Hong Kong needs to be careful about its definition of being "Asia’s wine hub" as ubiquitous use of the phrase could be misconstrued.

Hong Kong was repeatedly described as "Asia’s wine hub" during the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair last week, where one of the two-hour seminars was even given the title Asian Wine Hub.

However, Jeannie Choo Lee MW said: “Is Hong Kong an auction hub? Yes. Is Hong Kong a re-export hub? Yes. Is Hong Kong a fine wine hub? Yes. And, it’s a fine wine hub for greater China too. But, it’s not a [general] wine hub.”

Lee, who defines fine wine as a wine that’s more than HK$500 a bottle (retail), added that Hong Kong’s credentials to cement its reputation as a fine wine destination have improved immeasurably over the last two years.

This is thanks to initiatives such as the abolition of duty, the dramatic increase of quality storage facilities and its burgeoning wine auction activities, which has seen Hong Kong become “Sotheby’s most important wine centre,” for auctions, according to Serena Sutcliffe MW, who heads up Sotheby’s International Wine Department.

While discussing the role of Hong Kong as a wine gateway to mainland China, Lee also explained the difficulty in assessing the rate of Hong Kong’s progress, particularly when re-export figures don’t appear to correlate.

To illustrate her point, Lee quoted figures from the International Wine & Spirits Record, which says that the value of Hong Kong’s re-exports to mainland China will reach US$6 billion by 2011, whereas the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department says the figure will be as much as $17bn by 2012.

Jane Parkinson, 12.11.2009

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