Chinese taste in wine
The east is red
The fashion in wines, Chinese-style
Nov 24th 2012 | from the print edition
The reason is changing appetites among Chinese buyers. In past years they stoked the boom (prices rose by 35% in 2006). They then moved on to buying wineries (around 20 Bordeaux producers are now Chinese-owned). But such vineyards commonly produce 300,000 bottles a year each. In search of more exclusive labels, Chinese buyers are tiring of Bordeaux wines and turning to Burgundy, where wineries rarely make more than 3,000 bottles annually. A case of Domaine Dominique Gallois La Combe 1985, an exclusive Burgundy, now costs £114,000.
In August Château de Gevrey-Chambertin became the first Burgundy vineyard to go to a Chinese buyer. Christie’s Burgundy sales in Hong Kong are up threefold this year; much goes on to the mainland. A jeroboam (equivalent to four bottles) went for £47,000 at an auction there in 2011.
The switch is bad news for the wine trade: Bordeaux accounts for 85% of the fine-wine market, so a drop in Chinese interest hits hard. But Max Lalondrelle, of Berry Brothers and Rudd, a London merchant, says lower prices let him “reconnect with the drinkers”, rather than focusing on collectors and prestige buyers.