Wine traders expect strong demand for Bordeaux futures

Wine merchants warned Friday demand could be high for another excellent Bordeaux vintage after buyers from around the world descended on southwest France for the annual market.

China and Hong Kong have become the biggest customers for the world renowned Bordeaux wines but some traders are warning against neglecting the more traditional markets in Europe and the United States.

Most expect sales and prices to match last year's or to increase through the three month sales period, leading up to June's annual Vinexpo sales fair.

The sales drive kicked off in buoyant mood.

"I am mostly optimistic and confident about this campaign," said Bordeaux merchant Philippe Tapie, noting the exceptional quality of the vintage due to the weather and "colossal investments" to improve technical quality.

But it is one thing to have a great vintage and another to sell it. This past week, barrel tastings tested interest in the vintage before prices are set and the wines are sold as commodities futures - or "en primeur."

"The number of people who attended was down slightly compared to last year but with more real professionals and a greater number of nationalities," said Philippe Dambrine, director of Chateau Cantemerle.

Overall there were 19,000 visits to the seven chateaux hosting barrel tastings, with visitors from 68 countries, according to Jean-Marc Guiraud, director of the trade body the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux.

"If you consider the fact that more than 80 percent of our business is with fewer than 20 countries, that figure shows a high level of interest in all the markets," Guiraud wrote in an email to AFP.

"The main distributors from these small markets were there and this is a very encouraging point, as many people think that China now absorbs a growing part of our production."

While China and Hong Kong have quickly become Bordeaux's biggest export market, the question is whether they will put cash into a product that will not actually arrive in their warehouses for another two years?

"I definitely think so," said Philippe Laqueche, general manager of Yvon Mau, one of Bordeaux's largest wine merchants.

"The key players in Hong Kong and Mainland China are confident of the quality and the future ratings and they want to follow what they did in '09."

But Chinese importers new to the trade may find it hard to get allocated the most coveted brands of such an exceptional vintage.

"We get allocations because of our longstanding relationships," said Bandy Choi, an importer-retailer trading in Macau, Hong Kong and China. "The new importers won't get allocations - just a case or two to say 'hello'."

Bordeaux tends to prefer long-term market builders.

"Unless they have a clear and significant project, it will be difficult for them to get an allocation," confirmed Laqueche.

Chinese demand is expected to remain limited to established labels.

"We expect Asia to still only want the top 10 or 20 names and can't see that changing," said Gary Boom, managing director of Bordeaux Index, which has offices in Hong Kong and London.

"They won't buy unknown brands," confirmed Hong Kong trader Dennis Lok. "These will be sold to mature markets."

Mature markets in Europe and America have become a concern for chateaux as they see their wine flow to China, leaving shelf space open to rivals.

"The attraction of the Asian and Chinese markets is a terrific engine, unique. Nevertheless, one must not neglect and get cut off from traditional and historical markets," said Bordeaux merchant Tapie.

The US market has not yet fully recovered but currency fluctuations mean the price will increase for American buyers.

"Our currency has slipped - so even flat pricing will mean an increase in the USA," noted Chris Adams, CEO of Manhattan retailer Sherry Lehmann.

"Then we have avid worldwide interest, which I understand may translate to Asian buying in this campaign.

Bordeaux loyalists also have reason to beware demand from new investors.

Choi, who provides wine investment training for Bank of China employees and their wealthy private banking customers, says the Chinese are quickly grasping the profits to be made in wine speculation.

"But chateau owners don't want to hear about wine investment and speculators because it makes the prices crazy," said Choi.

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans is the favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear
TV
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing