China, Hong Kong lap up Bordeaux wine

China and Hong Kong's unquenchable thirst for Bordeaux wine has made their combined market, worth 333 million euros (430 million dollars), the number-one export client for Bordeaux in value terms, the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) says.

"This is very encouraging," said Georges Haushalter, president of the council that represents growers and merchants in France's most lucrative wine-growing region.

"This shows Bordeaux is well implanted in these new markets and maintaining its leader position. Bordeaux represents what the Chinese think of in terms of fine wine."

Haushalter, also managing director of wine merchant La Compagnie Medocaine des Grands Crus, said his firm tripled its sales to China and Hong Kong in 2010, not including profits earned by the 2009 Bordeaux futures campaign.

"Those sales figures are based only on wine we shipped," said Haushalter.

And the Chinese market shows no signs of cooling.

"The end of 2010 has been extremely busy in China and it remains the same in early 2011," said Jean-Pierre Rousseau, managing director of Bordeaux wine merchant Diva, which saw a 790 percent increase in sales in China in 2010.

"We are expecting a little slowdown for Chinese (Lunar) New Year (in early February) but it should not last long."

China's second-tier cities account for substantial growth as the wine culture spreads beyond Shanghai, its commercial hub, and Beijing, the capital.

"We are now serving second-ranked cities, mostly in the southeast, but hopefully we should reach the other areas this year," Rousseau told AFP in an email.

Hong Kong, which has actively courted economic cooperation with wine regions such as Bordeaux since eliminating import duties on wine in 2008, has played a pivotal role in expanding the market.

While there are no reliable statistics, some traders estimate that as much as 80 percent of wine purchased by Hong Kong is uncorked in mainland China.

Taken separately, and in value terms, wine sales to China increased 98 percent and those to Hong Kong rose 126 percent.

In terms of volume, Germany, a traditional market for inexpensive wine, remains Bordeaux's number one customer with 255,000 hectolitres, or 34 million bottles.

But it could soon be bypassed by China and Hong Kong, which currently together absorb 251,000 hectolitres a year, or 33.5 million bottles.

Overall Bordeaux exports have rebounded slightly since the economic crisis hit with a 10-percent year-on-year increase to 224 million bottles and seven percent increase in value to 1.39 billion euros.

The wine council's statistics cover sales from November 2009 to October 2010, with numbers for full-year 2010 expected in March.

But even before the final tally comes in, Bordeaux is confronting more sobering numbers closer to home.

Supermarket sales in France saw zero growth in volume, holding at 200 million bottles, and a tepid three percent growth in value to 895 million euros. Belgium, Britain and Germany all saw value drops of 10, eight and seven percent respectively.

Elsewhere, Japan, another mature market, gained 14 percent in volume but dipped two percent in value. In the United States, volume stabilised at 117,000 hectolitres but fell 37 percent in value terms to 96 million euros.

"We've hit the bottom in these markets," said Allan Sichel, president of Bordeaux's wine merchant union and managing director of Maison Sichel.

Sichel insists that the numbers fail to show a gradual, positive turn.

"Since September, things are picking up in both the United Kingdom and America but this upturn isn't enough to make up for the early part of the year."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us