China Now World’s Largest Importer Of Bordeaux Wines

China Imported Nearly Twice As Much Bordeaux As The UK In 2010

The wine business is flourishing in China, despite lagging consumer education and rampant counterfeiting (Image: Getty)

The wine business is flourishing in China, despite lagging consumer education and rampant counterfeiting (Image: Getty)

According to figures released by the Bordeaux Wine Industry Association (CIVB), last year China surpassed Germany to become the world’s largest importer of French Bordeaux wines in terms of wine volume as well as transaction volume. It’s no secret that China’s wine industry is booming, despite minuscule per capita wine consumption, owing to rising incomes and the country’s vast population, and these factors pushed the country’s Bordeaux imports to a whopping 30 million liters (8 million gallons), an increase of 67 percent year-over-year. China’s Bordeaux imports aren’t only impressive in terms of product volume, however. Last year, China’s transaction volume was nearly twice that of the UK.

While the statistics don’t break down the Bordeaux imports in terms of quality — a significant percentage was, in all likelihood, low- to mid-range wine — they reflect the popularity of anything and everything Bordeaux among Chinese wine buyers.

Since 2008, the market for Bordeaux wine in China has exploded, with imports rising 191 percent by product volume and 216 percent by transaction volume in the last three years. This has seen China jump from sixth place to first. Despite lagging consumer education and relatively little wine purchased for at-home drinking (gift-giving and banquets are the final destination for most high-end bottles), this new market has quickly raced beyond established and mature wine markets.

National statistics showed that China imported some 286 million liters (76 million gallons) of wine last year, a rise of 67 percent over 2009. This means handsome profits for exporters, with China’s wine imports totaling US$798 million, a nearly 81 percent rise year-over-year. While most of these wine imports were lower-quality bulk imports from Europe or South America, the growing proportion made up of higher-quality Bordeaux and wines from Australia, the US, and South Africa have given winemakers from around the world cause for optimism.



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