Nunes: ‘Port is far from reaching its full potential in Asia’

Launching the 2016 vintage Port from one of the region’s leading shippers, Symington Family Estates, Jorge Nunes, its market manager for Asia and the Pacific, lamented that Port has yet to find its footing in Asia, where the region’s powerhouse market, China, is “still far from where it can be”.

Jorge Nunes, Symington Family Estates’ market manager for Asia and the Pacific, presenting the newly released 2016 vintage port from the company in Hong Kong last Friday

Asia at the moment only accounts for 3% of Symington’s turnover, he revealed, with regions such as Europe, the US, and Scandinavia remaining its main export markets. In the Asia Pacific region, Australia and New Zealand are faring well, but other mature wine markets such as Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are not main growth drivers.

“Japan historically is the main Port market in Asia, but mainly entry level for cooking,” he commented a result of a failed marketing push years ago that linked Port with cooking, “we have premium business there but very small.”

Hong Kong and Singapore because of their inherently smaller consumer bases are two small markets for Port. However, South Korea and Taiwan are registering growth, and Indonesia in particular has been tipped as an “interesting” market to watch in the region.

China, which is expected to become the second biggest wine consumer by 2020, has yet to warm up to Port, however, although there is a small but solid base there. “China is a beginning but still far from where it can be, very far,” he emphasised.

In terms of price points, entry level Port is already twice as expensive as a big brand Chilean wine, due to higher production costs, he explained. Lack of knowledge over fortified wine and Portugal’s overall brand awareness among wine drinkers in China has also resulted in Port’s lacklustre performance in the region.

“France and Australia mean a lot [for wine lovers], but Portugal, they don’t know much about it..It doesn’t have the cultural leverage that other wine region have,” he went on.

Speaking of the 2016 vintage in Douro, the first widely declared vintage by Portugal’s major Port shippers such as Quinta do Noval, the Fladgate Partnership and Symington Family Estates, Nunes compared it as a cross between the previous two declared vintages of 2011 and 2007.

The wines released from the 2016 vintage are: Cockburn’s 2016 Vintage Port, Dow’s 2016 Vintage Port, Graham’s 2016 Vintage Port, Quinta de Roriz 2016 Vintage Port, Smith Woodhouse 2016 Vintage Port, Quinta do Vesuvio 2016 Vintage Port, Quinta do Vesuvio Capela 2016 Vintage Port, Warre’s 2016 Vintage Port, and Graham’s The Stone Terraces 2016 Vintage Port.

Nunes lauded the wines as having “wonderful freshness and elegance as well as structure”.

Production of each of Symington’s 2016 vintage ports is 20% less than its previously declared vintage, as a result of vigorous selection.


2016 Port: ‘Classic’ but tiny

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