Top 10 wine trends of 2012 – part 4

The Far East moves in on Burgundy

The argument that only Domaine de la Romanée Conti has the image to woo Asia’s wealthy wine consumers away from Bordeaux looks to be weakening rapidly.

Reporting from the ground, Tim Shaw, fine wine sales manager for Vanquish Wines, comments: “I was in Shanghai and Hong Kong recently and saw with my own eyes what’s going on. With DRC and Rousseau you can add Jayer to the list without a doubt.”

Importantly, Shaw also highlights the power of Asia’s female wine drinkers, where a preference for white wine is playing into Burgundy’s hands.

“There is a growing trend for young females to drink white wine, which they haven’t done normally,” he observes. “Following the men they’re going for French wine and where the perceived best white wine is made in France, which is Burgundy.”

Some, however, feel that it’s still too early to talk about Burgundy as a serious business driver. Slurp’s Jeremy Howard argues: “A few DRC auction sales do not a massive consumer movement make.

“Burgundy will gain in popularity in the Far East because the wines are of high quality and are much cheaper than comparable Bordeaux, but we are talking about years not months.”

Nevertheless, with early glimpses of the 2010 Burgundy vintage evoking enthusiastic praise, coupled with warnings about limited supply from the small harvest, excitable trading within Burgundy’s traditional markets could well help fan the flames in the Far East.

Meanwhile, if this highly fragmented region, whose scale even in big years is far more limited than Bordeaux, does take off in Asia, Burgundy lovers in the UK will need to move quickly.

Tom Gibbs, manager at Cognosis Consulting, extends this warning to other fine wine producing regions, predicting: “Competition for established premium wines which have historically been available in the market will become more intense.

“Emerging market demand will force UK trade and consumers to become more open-minded and flexible in pursuit of good quality wines which offer value for money.”

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