Hong Kong is the new darling of the wine world but walk into a local restaurant in the Special Administrative Region and tea is the drink you’ll most likely sup.
The official statistics show wine is on the up: in the first eight months of this year, the value of wine imported reached HK$6.6 billion (US$850 million), representing a 65% increase year-on-year
However, after spending a short period in Hong Kong, it seems that wine lists in many Cantonese restaurants are still basic, glassware leaves something to be desired and, white wine was served warm on a couple of occasions.
I was also surprised to see that BYO is a big deal in Hong Kong.
In a bid to better understand the Hong Kong wine market, Debra Meiburg MW has published a Guide to the Hong Kong Wine Trade, based on a survey of all the SAR’s importers. “37% of the market is direct sales that’s unique to our market. These are mostly being taken into restaurants because we have a big BYO scene,” said Meiburg. “If your wine is on a retaurant list it may never sell”, she added.
However, there is still plenty of potential for growth, with very few importers focusing on Chinese restaurants: “We have heard complaints that there’s too much competition in Hong Kong but they are all chasing the same market. No-one is chasing the Chinese market. The market is not saturated.
“Everyone is entertaining their clients in western restaurants. We have fine Cantonese cuisine that is being ignored.”
Domaine de la Romanee Conti: yours for just £10,000 a bottle!
Monday 12 September
In August’s edition of Decanter, I asked is Burgundy a one horse-race when it comes to investment? The answer was yes - at the moment - but names like Jayer, Rousseau, Roumier and Dujac are worth a dabble in the top years.
The conclusion was backed up by an auction at Bonhams last week, selling a case of Romanee-Conti 1990 vintage for £126,500. That’s more than £10,000 per bottle or £1,750 a glass – although I suppose that depends on the size of your glass!
Another case of Romanee-Conti, this time from 1988, sold for £74,750.
Interestingly, both cases were bought by a European buyer and it will be interesting to see how they perform in the Far East when the auction house sells more cases of the 1988 and 1990 vintage in Hong Kong in November.
The price of Romanee-Conti has shown, on average, a rise of 50% over the last year, according to Liv-ex.
Suspicions that the 2008 Mouton-Rothschild label would be designed by a Chinese artist were confirmed last week.
Prices have been creeping up in the past 12 months amid the speculation. Since Xu Lei was announced as the artist, prices went up 20% overnight. According to Fine & Rare Wine’s market data tool (frw.co.uk), a year ago, you could pick up the 96 Parker point wine for £2800; now you’re looking in the region of £8750. A 211% rise in value.
The Mouton move followed Chateau Lafite’s announcement that the 2008 vintage would feature the Chinese number eight symbol on the bottle. The wine’s value has since surged. In the past twelve months, the price has increased from £4857 to £15,303– a rise of 215%.
Which brings me to ask the question – why aren’t other producers doing the same thing? A New World producer with some traction in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai would be pretty smart to follow the likes of Mouton and Lafite. If a Kiwi winery – say Craggy Range, Te Mata or Villa Maria employed the services of a Chinese artist or designer for their top Bordeaux blend (Sophia, Coleraine and Twyford Single Vineyard respectively) it woud be incredible PR - increasing awareness, sales and possibly prices. Surely, it couldn’t be that difficult and a cost benefit analysis would no doubt conclude benefit benefit benefit.
Winefuture 2009 - where were the future wine leaders?
Winefuture moves to Hong Kong in November 2011
I sincerely hope the second edition of this conference is better than the first, as I would have been seriously pissed off if I had spent more than 700 euro on a ticket to Winefuture in Rioja.
I also hope that the conference addresses the future rather than having allowing speakers to unabashedly promote their company – Xavier Pages, CEO at Codorniu told us about his grandfather and the history of the company for the first ten minutes before he actually got to something interesting. And while I like Stephen Spurrier his speech on the future of wine writing was a Decanter advertorial. Nevertheless he has been invited to speak again.
Similarly Mel Dick of Southern Wine and Spirits stood up and told us about a wine event in Florida experiencing great weather. Strike me down, he’s been invited back to speak too.
If Winefuture is to be a success this time, it must run on time, those speaking should have their speeches checked before they start doing a personal PR campaign, there should be some speakers who represent the future of the wine industry, and wi-fi access must be available. It’s not much to ask. Let’s hope they can get it right second time around.