When critics sample Bordeaux wine’s 2015 vintage next month, producers will find out if it’s as good as they claim. If so, prices could unwed from what’s driving them lower: China’s slowdown.
The Asian nation’s demand for fine wine exploded in 2008 when Hong Kong abolished a 40 percent wine duty. Producers of the world’s most sought-after wines raised prices in the late 2000s to meet growing appetite in China, now the world’s biggest Bordeaux importer by volume. Since then, China’s crackdown on graft and its economic malaise has dented sales -- resulting in the worst price crash in the wine industry for four decades.
Favorable weather points to 2015 being the best year for Bordeaux since 2010, which could reignite prices. Still, producers will need traditional markets like the U.S. to pick up the slack from Asia, said Justin Gibbs, co-founder of Liv-ex. “It’s not going to be China that comes back,” he said. “They got burned and they are out.”