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Latest trend in wine writing: ‘bubble’

Here’s a link to The National Business Review (whatever that is) which carries an article on the Andrew Lloyd Webber sale of wines held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong. What tickled me was the opening statement:

In a sure sign China’s growing prosperity is reaching bubble proportions, bidders have paid top dollar in Hong Kong for part of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s vast wine collection.

Oh. I see. Well, the author (Nevil Gibson….no, I haven’t either) must be referring to the currently proposed ‘Lafite bubble’, which was of course said to be ready to burst (incorrectly, in my opinion) in December by Andy Xie, an article on which I commented here. So let’s have a look at the wines then. What vintages of Lafite, and how much? Here goes:

1990 Domaine de la Romanée Conti – a magnum for £17,460
2002 Domaine de la Romanée Conti – three bottles for £8400
1982 Chateau Petrus 1982 – a case for £48,500

The sale also included “the finest white Burgundies ever for sale in the region“.

This doesn’t smell of a “burst bubble” (of whatever) to me. Assuming it was the Chinese and not ex-pats or similar who were buying (Gibson doesn’t specify), the story here is surely:

– the Chinese are buying other Bordeaux than Lafite, for “top dollar”.
– the Chinese are looking beyond Bordeaux to Burgundy, DRC specifically, but others too.
– ALW has wisely sold off lots of risky white Burgundy. He must know his wine, after all. Maybe.

Looks more like a widening of China’s appetite for expensive wine, than a burst bubble, to me.

One Response to “Latest trend in wine writing: ‘bubble’”

  1. I absolutely agree! I do not want to comment on whether or not it is a “bubble” per se, because I’m not an economist, and even the brightest economists can hardly predict that when the ever so controversial China is involved (no offense to China, I’m from China actually…). People have been debating on whether or not the country right now has experienced an over-heated economy, especially regarding the possible “housing bubble”. But my take is that there are 1.4 billion Chinese people who are getting more affluent by day, and they would need roofs over their heads right? Now the situation is, they not only need just any roofs, nice roofs are what they are looking for. So long as they need a place to live, the so-called “housing bubble” is highly unlikely to burst!
    By the same token, as people have more disposable income nowadays in China, they are going to start drinking more wine – nice wines too! With the current trend in consumer spending, its rapidly reshaping culture as well as people’s mentality in general, which I can stake my reputation to it based on my acquaintance with the country who born and raised me, I will assure you that the same trend in wine will continue. Well, I take that back: we are not even quite as far as “continue” yet, this is only the beginning… So long as people need nice wines to make their meals more pretentious and fine bottles to make their cellar-display more ostentatious (oh gosh I wish I didn’t just say that…), the so-called “Lafite bubble”, or “Bordeaux bubble”, or even “wine bubble” in general will never burst!
    We have 1.4 billion Chinese people to underwrite that insurance now don’t we ;-)? Well, just a little disclaimer: I’m not trying to be an extremist here. Everything needs a balance. Prices keep rising, but there’s got to be a point where it needs to taper off right? The “bubble” will have to burst at some point in time, won’t it? When will that be and at what price index will that catastrophic event occur? We’ll have to leave it all up to our ingenious economists to make the call now won’t we eh? But one thing I know for sure is that we are not quite at the equilibrium point yet as of right now. But as far as the price point dropping, I’m sorry but I really don’t see that happening…