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High prices, low stocks stifle Asia’s appetite for 2009s

The 2009 vintage was billed as the year Asian markets would jump aboard the en primeur train but small allocations, high prices and a continued reluctance to buy wine as futures in China have been blamed for a less successful campaign than expected.

Sales of the highly rated 2009s did increase in the Far East compared to 2008 but negociants and UK merchants admit the campaign did not meet their expectations.

One Bordeaux-based merchant told decanter.com it was ‘pretty disappointed’ with the 2009 campaign in the Far East but also admitted it had ‘pared back’ allocations.

Laurent Ehrmann, the managing director of another Bordeaux negociant, Barrieres Freres, added: ’I can’t say the Asian markets pilfered the 2009 stocks – that’s a fantasy of the European consumer. Sales were up but they were present but not blindly buying any wine at any price.’

High release prices and lack of availability also stemmed the growth of Asian markets.

Nick Pegna, MD of Berry Bros & Rudd Hong Kong, said: ‘I think the demand was there but there were fewer wines available, and at higher prices.’

‘All the big merchants here say they didn’t get the stock they wanted because of initial allocations.’

China’s reluctance to buy wine as futures continues with many collectors not yet entering the en primeur market.

There is also a lack of confidence in storage conditions in China with many wines heat damaged, added Pegna. ’The big issue is not whether China understands en primeur but whether they have trust in the system.’

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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