Asia’s love affair with Bordeaux

After a few shaky vintages in Bordeaux, you could be forgiven for feeling nervous that interest in the fine wine market was beginning to subside in Asia. Admittedly the market became so vast, so quickly, that there was little chance of growth continuing at such a fast pace. However, recent reports show that Asia’s love affair with Bordeaux is far from over, and in fact,this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Mouton-Rothschild and the year of the ram

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

The evidence speaks for itself – at the top end of the market, a recent ex-chateau auction of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Hong Kong smashed all records, fetching a total of US$4.1 million. An extraordinary collection of 66 bottles was featured, offering vintages between 1945-2012.

This auction took place just before the Chinese New Year, giving it particular significance for the Chinese bidders, since it is the year of the ram – of course ‘Mouton’ is the French word for sheep!

China invests in Bordeaux

The Telegraph also reported recently that over 100 Bordeaux Chateaux now have Chinese owners, around 1.3% of the some 7,400 estates. Considering how quickly the Chinese market has grown from virtual insignificance following the dropping of the import tax, this really is an important statistic. China’s purchases focus on estates whose wines are mid-range, and it will be interesting to see what’s in store for these wines in the future as Chinese investment makes its way to the region.

Make way for Singapore

Thirdly, yet another Asian market has been emerging while all eyes have been on China – the island of Singapore is now home to an expansive wine storage facility, and many wine businesses are looking to Singapore to open new branches of their businesses. The number of US$ millionaires in Singapore virtually doubled between 2007-2012, and this will undoubtedly be a nation to watch as the newly wealthy look for new ways to enjoy their affluence. Singapore’s interest in wine is likely to attract attention from Indonesia as well, another emerging nation.

China is now the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world, and the largest buyer of Bordeaux in terms of value, ahead of the UK and Hong Kong. Ultimately we’ll always be looking for the next emerging market, but let’s not forget to keep an eye on the current marketplace! Far from losing interest in Bordeaux, it rather seems like the Far East is just getting started.

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