Bordeaux 2009 may not be for drinking in China

On May 18, Decanter.com, a prestigious wine news site, released findings from a survey that captured Chinese sentiments regarding Bordeaux 2009.

Compiled by the Chinese fine wine consultancy, Dragon Phoenix, the survey asked five influential wine professionals and enthusiasts in China six topical questions to gauge which Bordeaux 2009 wines are likely to attract Chinese buyers.

Simon Zhou, Ruby Red Fine Wines (Shanghai); Marcus Ford, The Wine Way, Pu Dao, (Shanghai); Michael Ma, wine lover and en primeur buyer; Helen Qu, Les Millésimes Wine Club (Beijing); and Grace Cai, Aussino Fines Wines (Guangzhou) took part in the survey and answered questions ranging from the relevance of Robert M. Parker, Jr., the voice of wine and author of several wine books, to price sensitivities and likely favorites.

Here are some of the highlights:

"Speculators will be the biggest buyers of 09 Bordeaux. Wine drinkers ... will not buy as enthusiastically as most overseas trade and media seem to think," said Zhou.

Ford agreed, "although wine lovers are ‘warming up to the idea of En Primeur' they wouldn't make their presence felt nearly as much as speculators from outside China hoping to capitalize on the Chinese thirst for fine Bordeaux in general and the 2009 vintage in particular."

Whereas Ma expressed concern that "vintners betting on an explosion of demand from China in 09 are likely to be disappointed" and vintners should be careful not to insult "savvy buyers by increasing prices on the basis that the Chinese market will stand anything."

"There seems to be a widespread opinion that the Chinese will pay any prices to fetch top wines. However, if there's one defining characteristic of the Chinese, it is that they hate to be taken for fools," he continued.

Qu was not exactly on the same page as Ma, saying "Of course the Chinese are price-sensitive, she said, but 'if they perceive 2009 to be as great a vintage as 2005, 2000, or 1982, then they will be willing to pay high release prices."

So if the Chinese do buy up Bordeaux 2009, the big wines that are expected to sell are the premier cru (first growths) including Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion with Zhou favoring Lafite.  He also added, "Outside those top wines there are about 15 wines which will be heavily traded...The rest will attract very little interest."

As for Parker's relevance amongst Chinese wine buyers, the participants aren't exactly convinced and hinted Hong Kong wine professionals might be the go-to source.

It's not a coincidence that VinExpo, an international wine trade event and hub for wine education, trends and new products, is returning to Hong Kong for May 25-27.

Jeannie Cho Lee, MV, a leading Asian authority on wine, is someone that garners trust in China and if her Bordeaux 2009 reviews and notes will guide buyers expect to see happy vintners in Bordeaux. Take a look at Cho's comments: http://www.asianpalate.com/wineratings

To see the complete results of the survey, go to: http://www.decanter.com/specials/298078.html
For more information on VinExpo, visit: http://www.vinexpo.com/en/index

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