November 20, 2012 - As Chinese investors add expensive Burgundy and California wine to their fine wine wish lists, they raise concern that traditional markets will lose coveted allocations and see prices increase.
Decanter.com reported Monday that the 2012 Hospices de Beaune barrel auction had 30 percent more Asian buyers than last year, and that those buyers placed the second most bids by group.
Chinese interest in classified Bordeaux contributed to dramatic price increases in recent vintages and Burgundy enthusiasts are quick to point that out.
"We believe in a deliberate development of the market; we do not want to follow the Bordeaux example," said Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of the Burgundy Wine Council (BIVB).
According to Decanter, Gagey also said that the BIVB had opened an office in Shanghai to administer training sessions for Chinese wine buyers. The training sessions are part of what Gagey called a "prudent" strategy towards Burgundy sales in Asia.
Meanwhile, in California, Richard Wollack has been tapped by China's Hina Group to seek out winery and vineyard acquisitions for the private equity firm.
Wollack told Decanter that Hina had set up a $100 million fund to purchase existing properties, some of which may not officially be on the market. According to Wollack, they were mostly looking to purchase in Napa, Sonoma and other high-quality areas.
Wollack said Hina's main focus was to find properties that could earn their clients long-term investment potential, but added that "buying a brand" or "creating a wine from acquired vineyards" was also a possibility.
Photo courtesy of Decanter.com