More Than Half Of Imported Wine In Zhejiang Province Consumed In Prosperous Wenzhou
We’re generally wary of raw numbers in the China market, because of the country’s vast population, but a few figures in the world of wine really stand out this week. First, the Chinese-language news portal Hexun reported that out of Wenzhou, one of the wealthiest cities in southeast China, imported 1.3 million liters of wine in the month of January alone — an all-time record — and accounted for 54% of all wine consumption in Zhejiang province for the first two months of the year.
From Hexun, via Sina (translation by Jing Daily team):
In the first two months of this year, Wenzhou’s wine imports mainly came from France, Italy and Spain. Among these imports, those from France accounted for 4.68 million RMB ($686,200), a [monthly] increase of 277.3%
According to analysis by Wenzhou customs officials, in the first two months of this year Wenzhou’s [spike in] imported wine was mostly due to Chinese New Year and Spring Festival celebrations. In recent years, a wide array of imported wine brands have popped up all over Wenzhou, since most residents like to give imported wine as gifts to friends around the time of Chinese New Year. To ensure a steady supply of wine in the city, many agents have started to import wine, contributing to growth in the first two months of the year. In addition, [Wenzhou’s] overseas Chinese advantage (侨乡: a village or town inhabited by returned overseas Chinese or relatives of overseas Chinese — JD), a flexible business model and a preference for buying imported wine among Wenzhou residents have all played a part in the rise in imports.
It will be interesting to see whether Wenzhou wine imports continue to break records as the year goes on. Although a spike in wine imports is to be expected around the time of Chinese festivals, it would make little sense for Wenzhou’s competitive wine agent industry to sit idle for the majority of the year, especially since Wenzhou — as a long-time trading city with decades of exposure to the outside world — has such a significant population of seasoned wine drinkers. And after all, Wenzhou officials recently announced that they hope to make the city China’s “wine hub.” A clear example of Wenzhou business acumen: before oversupply can become an issue, just fashion the city into the country’s wine distribution epicenter.
The other figure that caught our eye this week was the £45,000 ($68,170) for an imperial bottle of 1982 Pétrus spent by a Hong Kong wine collector. Jing Daily recently pointed out that China became the world’s top importer of Bordeaux wines outside of Europe by volume last year, and how wine collectors in the mainland and Hong Kong drove sales of nearly HK$53 million (US$6.8 million) at the first Sotheby’s wine auction of the year in Hong Kong. It’s obvious to anyone who watches the Chinese wine market that the popularity of top French vintages by Pétrus and Lafite is only increasing. From The Drinks Business:
Recent interest from Asian buyers has seen them scouring the globe’s fine wine auctions for Bordeaux’s first growths and Burgundy.
Bordeaux Index, which sells more than £75 million worth of fine wine to investors and buyers every year, said its latest sale of Pétrus was the highest amount paid for a single bottle in its 13-year history.
“Fine wine sales to Asia are rocketing,” said Bordeaux Index founder Gary Boom. “Even by Hong Kong standards, £45,000 for a bottle of red – albeit a world-class bottle of red – is a remarkable sale. It reflects the incredible current level of interest in fine wines in the region.