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01.2013

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedOnWineReport

BURGUNDY HOSPICES DE BEAUNE HAS A BONANZA

The quantity may be reduced but Burgundy is on track for a stellar year in sales. The recent Hospices de Beaune auction, now in its 152nd year, saw the average price of a bottle rocket by more than 54 percent compared to last year to reach around 38O euros (US $49O). This year’s record was reached despite a 3O percent drop in the number of bottles on offer after a year that saw yields in Burgundy plummet due to terrible weather and disease. The event, which is now run by British auctioneers Christie’s, attracts wine lovers from all over the world. Organizers said they had seen rocketing interest in the sale from Asian buyers. China is now Burgundy’s fourth largest export market behind Japan, Britain and the US. However, local wine growers and experts have expressed their concern that China’s nouveau riche are more interested in speculating than appreciating great quality wine – which has led to price bubbles hitting Bordeaux’s top grands crus. Fueling this concern, the Chateau of Gevrey-Chambertin, producing Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite red from one of Burgundy’s most prized vineyards, was bought by Chinese gambling tycoon Louis Ng Chi Sing three months ago. “After having made the market price of certain Bordeaux explode in an irrational manner, they’re now logically interested in Burgundy and its niche wines,” Laurent Gotti, a Burgundy specialist, told Le Parisien. They want everything that is the most expensive and are prepared to fork out incredible sums.” Last year, a single jeroboam of 1999 Romanée-Conti sold for more than £47,OOO at a Hong Kong auction. But Louis-Fabrice Latour, the chairman of the union of Burgundy winemakers, said fears of an Asian invasion were being blown out of proportion. “In simple terms, [annual sales to] China represent less than one month of sales to the US.”

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