left corner left corner
China Daily Website

China's thirst for Bordeaux continues to cover new ground

Updated: 2012-10-25 14:33

New figures show that China's thirst for Bordeaux wine is still growing. The first 6 months of 2012 showed a 44% increase in volume over the same period last year. In 2009, imports of Bordeaux into China increased by 97%, then a further 67% in 2010 and again by an astounding 91% in 2011. In 2011, China was the final destination for 74% of all Bordeaux exported to Asia.

Today, 25% of all bottled Bordeaux exported worldwide, directly ends up on the tables of mainland China – and this percentage is even higher when taking into consideration bottles imported through Hong Kong. This increasing thirst is being celebrated and expanded across Bordeaux and beyond.

It's not just wine that's being acquired. In the Bordeaux region alone, around 20 vineyards have been bought by Chinese businesses and investors. With China being Bordeaux's largest export market of home-grown favourites like Château Lafite and Château Latour (bottles of choice for Chinese collectors and gift givers), it's no surprise Chinese acquisitions have and will continue to increase in the region. To assist the increasing number of Chinese businesses, investors and connoisseurs adding a portfolio of French vineyard acquisitions to their shopping lists, international and French-origin accountancy firm Mazars has inaugurated its 38th office in France by extending its geographic coverage to Bordeaux.

Gilles-Alexandre Salansy, Senior Manager at the French Desk of Mazars in Hong Kong explains "Chinese investors are pursuing acquisitions in Europe as it's a good time economically for them to do so, especially for those in the wine business on the mainland market. Businesses and independent buyers are making overseas investments to both support the integrity of their wine operations in mainland China and secure a steady supply of high quality product."

China's thirst for Bordeaux continues to cover new ground

Gilles-Alexandre Salansy, Senior Manager at the French Desk of Mazars in Hong Kong 

Gilles-Alexandre Salansy continues "We have clients operating in a wide range of industries, including vineyards, so we are able to assist and advise Chinese investors at all stages of their acquisition projects. This includes identifying the right acquisition target, performing due diligence, determining the value of the potential acquisition, establishing partnerships and assisting where we can. Our French practice has Chinese speaking professionals as well as long-term clients in the wine industry. Also, our China offices have French national specialists on board, so we are like a bridge between the two nations."

Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé becomes the first classified growth sold to a Chinese buyer

Château Bellefont-Belcier, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé property, is the first classified growth* to be acquired by a Chinese investor. Purchased via a land management consultancy in Bordeaux, the 13ha Château Bellefont-Belcier had been on the market for some time. The acquisition is awaiting final approval from the French Government land agency.

According to Gilles-Alexandre Salansy, China's taste for French wine is still evolving: "The boom in Bordeaux wine is not isolated and can be seen across many categories of wine. The average value of French exports to China has been increasing every year and the recent surge in volume of wine and spirits may reflect that a higher number of Chinese consumers are becoming connoisseurs. Increased sales are attributed to the desire for vintage and rare bottles as investments as well as the continued demand for high-end French products."

China's recent Chateaux and vineyard acquisitions

Recent Chinese purchases in the Bordeaux region include: Château Millaud Montlabert, in Saint Emilion, the 10th estate to be bought by the Haichang Group. Their previous acquisitions include Chateau Branda and Chenu Lafitte. Another property, the 12.5ha Château Lucas in Cotes de Castillon was purchased by Chinese architect Wencheng Li, owner of Wencheng Castle near Beijing.

Now China warms to Armagnac

Following its love for Bordeaux, China has in 2012 also become the world's largest importer of Armagnac, after a huge surge in sales in 2011. According to the Bureau National Interprofessionel de l'Armagnac (BNIA), sales of the French brandy to mainland China jumped from 125 hectolitres in 2010 to a huge 935 hectolitres in 2011 while sales to Hong Kong almost doubled, from 292 hectolitres in 2010 to 505 in 2011.

Produced on a smaller scale than cognac by independent and boutique distillers in Gascony in South-West France, Armagnac has similarities with the Chinese huangjiu (‘yellow wine') and is reputed to have health benefits. Acquisitions in Gascony where the distinctive Armagnac grapes are grown, may well start soon.

* "Classified-growth" is a ranking given by the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 recognizing the leading Bordeaux wines.