As this year is ending we are learning that the Chinese millionaires really like brand name or “Icon” wines. So much so, that they are buying up all the famous first growth wines says Malcolm Moore a reporter for the Telegraph in Shanghai. He quotes Xavier de Eizaguirre, who manages Chateau Mouton Rothschild, one of France’s five “Premier Cru” estates, who says it has been a “huge struggle to stay fair” to his customers. “When the Chinese are willing to buy your entire year’s production, it is difficult to resist,” “We have to take the opportunity to do business… Eizaguirre also says politically that he has to be careful with the rest of buyers worldwide; “After all, one day we might get kicked out of China and then, when we return to our old customers, they will ask us why we deserted them when they needed us.”
Apparently, the five Premier Cru estates, which also include Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Haut-Brion, produce only 180,000 bottles to 200,000 bottles of wine each year, (which sounds low)and there is only so much to go around.
Of course all of this has caused the prices of all Premier Cru wines to skyrocket even during the financial crisis and deep global recessions. Prices have tripled or quadrupled worldwide in the past year which does not make any sense economically. Even substandard years such as 2007 and 2008 which normally would have made Bordeaux wines more affordable have been inordinately overpriced. I think this has a lot to do with the catapulting rise of new world wines and the absence of French Premier Cru’s on annual ‘Best of” lists. The folks are really getting a chance to see, taste and buy these new world wines alot more, earning loyalty. Producers and winemakers are filling the gap with great wines at a better price.
Case in point… a case of Lafite sold for about $5,000 ten years ago in New York or London and now fetches as much as $64,000 and in Asia $72,000. Gosh, I hope my figures are wrong!