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‘Savvy’ Chinese buyers looking beyond Bordeaux

Chinese fine wine consumers are diversifying beyond Bordeaux and buying an ever wider range of wines from Burgundy and the New World, local merchants say.

Berry Bros & Rudd Hong Kong managing director Nick Pegna said the company’s sales of Burgundy had trebled during the campaign for the 2009 vintage in the run-up to the Chinese New Year.

And Don St Pierre Jr, CEO of ASC Fine Wines, added that demand was rising for top wines from other regions, including Penfolds Grange, Phelps Insignia, Shafer Hillside Select and Gaja Barbaresco.

‘The range of Burgundies was broad and excluded a number of blue chips which aren’t released at this stage, namely DRC, as well as Clos du Tart,’ Pegna told Decanter.com.

‘This was the likes of Comte Armand, Fichet, Gagnard, D Lafon, de Montille, Grivot, Clavelier, Rion, Rossignol-Trapet, Vougeraie.’

Pegna emphasised that Bordeaux continued to dominate fine wine sales, adding that sales of Mouton-Rothschild, Margaux and Haut-Brion had improved in the last two months.

‘Also, we have had some strong interest in older vintages of the likes of Cos d’Estournel, Pontet-Canet, Grand Puy Lacoste, Figeac and Lynch-Bages.

‘In general terms, the market is becoming less polarised around a few names and buyers are diversifying, even for gift-giving which dominates this time of year.’

St Pierre said business was still good, with ASC sales for January and February likely to be about 35% up on last year, but added that demand for Bordeaux had shifted from the top five or seven wines to a broader selection of 15-20 chateaux.

Edward Ragg of Dragon Phoenix Fine Wine Consulting added: ‘More savvy buyers are looking at securing value from classed growths that are less well-known.’

He continued: ‘Wine lovers who are looking for something new and are keen to learn are gravitating towards the likes of Burgundy and the Rhone.

‘This is especially true among affluent, younger consumers who tend not to be as biased toward France and express interest in high-quality wines from various countries.’

Written by Richard Woodard

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