9th July, 2013 by Shiying Huang
Wine merchants in China are finding the prices of Bordeaux first growths too expensive, despite the recent decreases, and are increasingly looking to other fine wine producing regions.
On April 22, Lafite, the leading symbol of premium wines in China, announced its 2012 vintage pricing. At €330 per bottle, the price was 21.4% lower than the 2011 vintage, marking the first year since 2008 that the price of Lafite has been brought down to more affordable levels.
And Lafite is not the only one whose hefty price tag is shrinking – other first growth producers are also lowering prices. The 2012 Margaux and Mouton were both priced at €240 per bottle, falling by 33%, and Margaux’s second label, Pavillon Rouge, decreased by 12% in price to €75 a bottle.
However, despite the price decrease of the Bordeaux first growths, local merchants in China still find them exorbitant.
As China is the biggest export market for Bordeaux wines, the depressed pricing of the first growths is reflective of Chinese consumers’ reduced enthusiasm for the en-primeur market in the past year.
It is perhaps indicative too of a general paradigm shift in the preferences and purchasing habits of wine consumers in China.
In June, Chinese auction house Beijing Poly International conducted an exclusive auction of fine and rare French wines, many of which were Bordeaux first growths. Several of the starting bid prices were much lower than the prevailing market retail prices, yet this did not capture the interest of bidders, and the crowd had in fact thinned while the auction was still active.
Wangjiu Online is a popular online retail platform for premium wines in China, and they have noted changes in the preferences of their customers.
Consumers no longer splurge thousands of RMB in pursuit of the top growths in Bordeaux, but are spending within the price range of ¥600-1500 (€76-190) and opting for wines from other countries or regions such as Italy and Burgundy.