As buyers await the first price releases for the 2006 Bordeaux en primeur campaign, one of Japan’s leading wine merchants has said that their 2005 campaign was a ‘disaster’, and that they are still sitting on large stocks of wine.
Tadashi Yasuda of Enoteca, Japan’s largest buyer of en primeurs, told decanter.com this week that 2005 suffered from ‘the double punch’ of exchange rates and overly high wine prices. ‘A bottle of Chateau Lafite 2004 cost 17,000 Yen (GBP 71), while for 2005 it was 69,000 Yen (GBP 291). Even with our clients, the number of people who can buy at those prices is very limited. The Japanese love Bordeaux wines, but they were priced out of the market’.
Yasuda is less than optimistic about prices for the 2006 vintage. ‘The quality was good to excellent for some chateaux, but not homogenous. I had many discussions with owners and negociants while in Bordeaux, and I got the feeling that with the new markets like China and the Middle East, Japan, the UK and other traditional markets are less important to them.
‘Prices may come down a little perhaps but chateaux owners are very confident after last year’s campaign, and many want to keep the prices high. I’m not expecting much movement from last year.’
Despite Japan being the most developed market in Asia for fine wines, it is not seen as a large market for the en primeurs. Ernie Singer of Japanese wine merchant Millesimes cited the lack of tax breaks for wine investing, the lack of room for storage and the relative lack of sophistication of the market.
Japanese wine consumption rose 5.5% in 2005 to 2.4 litres per person, reversing the marginal downward trend of the past five years. 61.5% of that consumption is of imported wines.
Written by Jane Anson