Food & Drinks

Hongkongers spend more on a bottle of Bordeaux wine than anyone else in the world, industry insiders reveal

In 12 months ending in July, volume of high-end product imported into city grew by 5 per cent to around 10 million bottles

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 1:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 6:14pm

Hong Kong’s wine lovers now spend more on a bottle of Bordeaux wine than anyone else in the world, industry insiders have revealed.

Citing export figures, trade representatives and officials bfrom the renowned French port city said that while mainland China is the largest import market of Bordeaux wine by volume, Hongkongers pay on average the highest price per imported bottle, signalling keen local interest and robust demand.

According to Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Council, an influential body representing 7,000 vineyards in the wine-growing region, the average price per bottle of Bordeaux wine exported to Hong Kong stands at 32 euros (HK$290), the highest in the world.

The average price per bottle of exported Bordeaux is 7 euros.

“Hong Kong consumers are definitely willing to pay for a good bottle and are very committed to understanding the wine’s background and sourcing a good vintage,” Sichel said, as he launched the Bordeaux pavilion at the annual Wine and Dine Festival at Central Harbourfront that closes Sunday.

In the 12 months ending in July, the volume of Bordeaux wine imported into Hong Kong grew by 5 per cent to around 10 million bottles.

Hong Kong food and drink festival will feature fine wines ... in plastic glasses

The value of the imports, however, surged by 20 per cent during the same period to HK$3 billion, making up a quarter of all wine imported into the city.

Despite the popularity of the high-end product, the industry has sought to change the perception that Bordeaux wine is too costly for typical consumers.

Hong Kong consumers ... are very committed to understanding the wine’s background
Allan Sichel, Bordeaux Wine Council

At the festival, a section of the Bordeaux village is reserved for “Everyday Bordeaux”, a selection of bottles priced between HK$100 and HK$400.

“There is no shortage of affordable Bordeaux wines in Hong Kong,” Sichel claimed. “There are those selling for tens of thousands [of dollars], but others are available for a couple of hundred dollars.”

Thomas Jullien, the council’s adviser for the Hong Kong and mainland markets, said the city held a significant position as a major export hub.

While 82 million bottles were exported to the mainland last year – eight times the volume to Hong Kong – Jullien estimated the value of the two markets was roughly the same.

He noted that exports to China began to pick up a decade ago, and as the market matured, more investors were trying to secure their supply by acquiring vineyards in Bordeaux.

How to enjoy fine wines from Bordeaux without breaking the bank

“For example, hotels wish to have a stable source of good wine,” Jullien said. “By purchasing the vineyards, they will enjoy synergy.”

Yet some local residents have expressed fears that rising Chinese influence in the industry could damage its traditions. Sichel, however, rejected the concerns.

“Bordeaux has always been open to foreign investors,” he said, adding that at present Chinese investors owned only 120 vineyards, or a fraction of the entire industry.