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Record 2009 sales but ‘no change’ in Far East

The China market for Bordeaux 2009 has not materialised as expected, two London merchants say - at the same time as they announce record figures for the vintage.

Two major merchants, Farr Vintners and Bordeaux Index, say their sales have rocketed this year.

Farrs’ chief Stephen Browett announced sales of £53m with just over 30,000 cases sold at an average of £1760 per case.

Another London merchant, Bordeaux Index, announced sales of £16m for en primeur wines.

It said the relative lack of demand from the Far East was ‘anomalous’ given the fact Hong Kong is the second biggest wine market in the world.

‘The widely-anticipated rush in demand from the Far East has thus far failed to materialise. The sales of BI’s Hong Kong office accounted for no more than 10% of the overall group sales of this vintage,’ the company announced.

Bordeaux Index’s Gary Boom said the prediction – widely aired – that the Chinese would cast their nets much wider than the traditional first growths and super seconds ‘just hasn’t happened’.

‘They have bought ten properties at the most: Margaux, Mouton, Lafite, Carruades de Lafite, Cheval Blanc, Duhart Milon, Angelus, Lynch Bages. Nothing has changed.’

Boom said that Chinese buyers were happy to pay ‘top prices’ with a 15% premium for the best wines and would ‘ignore the rest’. Such clients are not interested in buying lesser wines as a guarantee of allocations of the top wines.

The story from Farrs is the same. Browett said Far East customers were responsible for more than a third of value sales, but a tiny proportion of volume.

‘Sales by value have been 60% UK, 40% Far East, but by volume it’s about 85% to 15%, as Far East customers have mainly bought only First Growths and “super-seconds”.’

He added, ‘There has been virtually no interest from the USA.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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