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Chinese Shift Focus Away From Wine Futures, Give Boost to Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Chinese demand for Bordeaux is focusing on vintages available now, such as the 2000, reversing the emphasis on futures that dominated the 2009 bull market, said Philippe Dhalluin, managing director of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

“We have a very solid market on deliverable vintages, in particular for years like 2000,” Dhalluin said in an interview in London. The surge in prices that took place for 2009 and 2010 wines before they were physically available “was a boom on the futures market, which became at that time a little inflationist.”

Chinese demand for 2009 and 2010 vintages helped drive the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index of recent Bordeaux to a peak in June 2011, from which it has since fallen 40 percent as demand ebbed amid a crackdown on gift-giving in China and as high prices caused collectors to shift their attention to wine from other regions.

“Now the market has matured and clients prefer to buy vintages when they are available in bottle, because futures are something which are perhaps a little misunderstood,” Dhalluin said. In mainland China “we can see a market which is solid and where there is growth for deliverable wines.”

This has helped raise the price of a case of Mouton 2000 by about 30 percent since July 2012 to $19,100, according to Liv-ex data. By comparison the 2009 and 2010 wines have plunged more than 35 percent from their initial futures prices to trade at $7,300. The 2005 vintage is priced at $6,600.

Those years for Mouton are the four highest-rated by U.S. critic Robert Parker since its 1986 vintage.

Mouton’s wines since 2011 are priced at about $3,200 to $4,500 a case.

Asian Trip

Dhalluin was speaking after a trip to Asia, which included an auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong of Mouton wines shipped directly from the chateau.

The top lot contained vintages spanning the years 1945 to 2012, excluding 1958 and 1963. It fetched HK$2.94 million ($380,000), beating a high estimate of HK$2 million.

Dhalluin’s trip took advantage of the approaching Chinese Year of the Sheep by promoting the estate’s emblematic ram, an English translation of “Mouton.”

Another coveted lot was from the 2000 vintage featuring the ram on its label. Consisting of six standard-size bottles, six 1.5-liter magnums, a 5-liter jeroboam, a 6-liter imperial and a 15-liter nebuchadnezzar, it sold for HK$1.7 million, compared with a high estimate of HK$1.2 million.

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