Actress Zhao Wei Buys Multimillion-Euro Chateau
Not content with being among the world’s most fervent buyers of Bordeaux wine, more wealthy mainland Chinese are headed to France with more in mind than simply sticking their new cellars. Recently, as Decanter notes this week, the actress Zhao Wei — far from a household name but a superstar in her native country — became the latest high-profile Chinese wine lover to drop millions to acquire a Bordeaux chateau and functional winery.
Chinese film star Zhao Wei has bought a St Emilion chateau for an undisclosed price. Although the price Zhao paid for the 7ha has not been revealed, local property agents put it at between €4 and €5m.
There are already around a dozen Bordeaux properties in Chinese hands and local newspaper Sud Ouest calculates anything up to 15 sales are in the process of going through. But Zhao Wei is one of the most glamorous buyers so far. Described by official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, as one of the country’s most popular actresses.
Breaking news of Zhao Wei’s purchase, Sud Ouest noted that so far Asian buyers are acquiring attractive, mid-range properties rather than big names. Zhao Wei will retain existing winemakers and markets.
Zhao’s acquisition is interesting in that she apparently plans to maintain her winery’s status quo, keeping winemakers on staff and keeping production focused on existing markets. As Jing Daily reported this past summer, after buying Château Laulan Ducos in Bordeaux, the Chinese Richard Shen (Shen Dongjun, 沈东军), owner of a large Chinese jewelry chain, decided to export all of the winery’s production to China. Zhao Wei’s decision to keep traditional markets while perhaps increasing exports to China is arguably a much smarter move, however. Not only are traditional consumer segments for her wine already “locked in,” but the crowded yet young nature of the Chinese wine market means shifting exports fully to China is far from a sure bet, even with her name recognition.
Anyway, as we’ve seen in recent wine auctions in Hong Kong, demand for high-end Bordeaux among Chinese collectors is even slipping at the top-tier. As Zhao Wei’s new winery, St Emilion Chateau, is a relative unknown in China, it might be best for her to wait until consumer tastes deepen and develop before boosting China-bound shipments.