How to succeed in China

The astounding, record setting Lafite auction that took place in Hong Kong around Halloween this year continues to reverberate around the world of fine wine. Many are wondering which Bordeaux Château will be the next to attract the attention of wealthy Chinese investors and collectors.

It is impossible to predict with certainty which vintage will become the new darling, but already the other First Growths – and their second wines – are increasing in price due to anticipation. Prices are up roughly 20% across the board over pre-auction prices. Although Château Beychevelle and Château Lynch Bages seem to have the inside track, it would be foolish to forget about Château Leoville Poyferre and Château Pontet Canet.

Labels are important in the Chinese markets as well, and Château Beychevelle may be the most likely to attract attention. The Beychevelle label is easy to remember because the boat that is depicted closely resembles Chinese dragon boats. Leoville Poyferre also has a dragon symbol on their label, and the dragon is very meaningful to Chinese investors. It was after their packaging changed in an effort to appeal to Chinese consumers that prices rose for Mouton 2008 and Lafite 2008.

On the other hand, Lynch Bages is also a strong contender, due to extensive efforts made by the Cazes family. They were among the very first Bordeaux owners to visit China in the early 1980s, and made a connection with consumers then that is still well appreciated.

Naturally the quality of the wine speaks volumes. Pontet Canet has gained ground due to the high quality of their selections. Chinese wine merchants have also been making frequent quotations on Cos d’Estournel, Palmer and Beychevelle – all being more affordable but still prestigious red Bordeaux.

It seems that to be successful in China one needs to have a memorable and meaningful label that speaks to Chinese mythology and symbolism, along with an exceptional product. In addition, the Château must put in the hard work of actually connecting with your consumers and spending the time to establish a rapport with investors.


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