Changing tastes among China’s growing middle class have helped the country become the leading importer of Bordeaux wines.
Wine body is ‘amazed’ at pace and endurance of China market growth
Bordeaux sales to China have doubled every year for the last five years, according the Conseil Inter-professionel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB).
The rapid and sustained growth saw sales hit £84m in the first half of 2010, catapulting China past Britain to become the largest export market.
While it was no secret that some wealthier Chinese had developed a taste for the region’s most expensive wines, the CIVB said consumption had been doubling as well.
This meant China also surpassed Germany as Bordeaux’s number one importer by volume in the second quarter.
Thomas Jullien, the CIVB’s director of marketing in Asia, told Sky News: “China has a strong thirst for wine and Bordeaux is a point of reference in the wine world.
“But to be honest I had expected it to reach a plateau earlier and I’m amazed at the growth figures.”
London-based wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd has also witnessed a fast-growing appetite for Bordeaux.
The group – which cites the fact that its 15-year-old Hong Kong merchant is China’s oldest as evidence of the market’s relative immaturity – has seen trade triple in the last three years, now accounting for a third of total Bordeaux sales.
Berry Bros. & Rudd sales and marketing director Simon Staples told Sky News it was still only glimpsing the “tip of the iceberg”, with only a handful of customers on China’s mainland.
“It’s been a really slow burner; it wasn’t until the last three years when we went into recession over here, that the fine wine market in Hong Kong really took off.
“They were just going for the top, top, top wines, but now they’re after education and there’s interest, which makes it far more sustainable, so that’s good.”
Mr Jullien said the CIVB had boosted its marketing in China, teaching the local population about wine and making a home for Bordeaux there.
“It’s key to be able to make wine part of the culture and in China meals are very important.
“China is enormous and all over the country you have a different cuisine, so what we do is we put the diversity of Chinese cooking in front of the whole diversity of Bordeaux wine – you have rose, sweet wine, dry white and tannic reds.
“There’s a red pork dish you have in Shanghai that goes with a tannic red wine perfectly; you get a little bit of fat, a greasy feeling in the mouth and the tannin in the wine wipes it out. It’s an interesting combination.
“To be honest, we’re still just scratching the surface on this – it’s fascinating.”
Mr Staples was also licking his lips at the prospect of wine’s future in Asia – and his eye is already wandering to other items on the menu.
“China’s a very interesting market – but what’s even more exciting and more sustainable is that India is just taking to wine and they’re more likely to drink it more often.”
By Ed Merrison at Sky News Online. Read full article.