DMG Group’s Chief China Representative discusses opportunity for sparkling wine 

May 30, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Following on from its recent International Wine Challenge trophy win, Tasmania’s House of Arras booth has been one of the busiest throughout the duration of Vinexpo Asia 2024. 

DMG Fine Wine’s Chief China Representative Steven Greig said “yesterday afternoon we had seven people on the stand for our company, and we couldn’t keep up. It was absolutely flat out. We got the glasses going in and out, and it’s just all happening.

“It was interesting to see how many young people were lining up and said they came here because they knew House of Arras was coming, and they came here just for House of Arras. That surprised me because I thought there are so many big brands – I mean there’s all the world’s best wine brands here.”

This year’s IWC trophy has served to consolidate House of Arras’ reputation as a global sparkling wine leader, following on from E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 being named the world’s top sparkling wine in the Decanter’s Wine of the Year 2020 awards. 

“That year, the best sparkling wine in the world was not from Champagne, it was from Australia, it was from Tasmania,” said Greig.

“That buzz has created a huge buzz around the world and Asia to come and see what Ed Carr, our winemaker, is doing down there in Tasmania. 

Steven Greig attributes much of House of Arras’ success to its Chief Winemaker.

“Really, it all comes back to Ed. You could just say he’s a scientist (which he was, he was a science graduate); so for Ed taking the science to the winemaking: some people call him a genius. And he’s definitely not a mad scientist, he’s switched right on.” 

DMG Group-owned Handpicked Wines acquired House of Arras in October of last year. Under new ownership, House of Arras is hoping to continue its current growth trajectory. Steven Greig, who currently lives in China, believes that white wine and sparkling wine categories are slowly beginning to gain traction, striking contrast to pre-tariff preferences.

“Definitely the profile of the wine drinker is changing in China greatly… From 2019, [since tariff’s were lifted], we’re finding [there are] a lot of the more sophisticated wine drinkers. So over those four years, we’ve seen a lot of young wine drinkers, especially young ladies out drinking Chardonnay, Riesling, white wines. Sparkling’s coming on a little bit as well, it’s a growth area for us.”

Interestingly, this growth opportunity is especially strong in the premium and ultra-premium sectors.

“Our Ed Carr Late Disgorged 2008, disgorged in 2022, 14 years on lees, that was the most popular, that’s been the big star. It’s around a $400, $500 bottle of sparkling wine in Australia and China, it’ll be around over 2,000 yuan.

“Even some of the big sparkling brands here were coming over and saying ‘can we try a little bit?’ and telling us that it was amazing. Reports from France, reports from China, is House of Arras: their sparkling is amazing, and we knew that.”

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