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China slowdown knocks Bordeaux wine exports in 2013

A new restraint towards fine wine in China was largely responsible for a drop in Bordeaux exports last year, according to new figures released by the CIVB.

Bordeaux’s wine council, the CIVB, said wine exports to China dropped by 16% in volume and 18% in value last year, a drop of €60m versus 2012.

China and Hong Kong still represented around 23% of all Bordeaux sales, and China remains the largest importer of Bordeaux wine by volume, and second by value behind the UK.

‘The slowdown of sales with China is largely due to political changes within the Chinese government,’ CIVB president Bernard Farges told journalists. He cited a central goverment crackdown on expenditure by officials – part of an wider anti-corruption drive in China – as contributing to the decline.

Patrick Bernard, owner of Millésima wine merchants, was philosophical about the export figures for China.

‘Certainly, we are seeing less wealthy Chinese arriving on private planes and buying up €50,000 of wine in one go,’ he told Decanter.com. ‘With the 2010 vintage, China accounted for 20% of all our direct sales, whereas in a more normal year it is closer to 5 or 6%.

‘The problem with both 2009 and 2010 is that the wines were priced for just one market – China – and no other nationalities were prepared to pay those prices.

‘Of course the drop is worrying in terms of volume of sales and turnover, but there is an upside if this realignment brings long-term stability.’

Globally, Bordeaux sales – including those in France – dipped by 1.4% in 2013 to €4.24bn. Exports fell by 6% in value and 2% in volume.

The new figures also revealed that 2013 was the region’s smallest harvest since 1991.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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