A New Year, and a new start, for Bordeaux wines in China

Monday February 15 2021 by Vitisphere

 “Just because we've just had three very good months compared to the previous nine doesn’t mean we’re heading for a fantastic period like 2010-2011”, says Roland Coiffe. “Just because we've just had three very good months compared to the previous nine doesn’t mean we’re heading for a fantastic period like 2010-2011”, says Roland Coiffe. - Photo credit : @Prysme

恭喜发财 (Happy and prosperous New Year)’ was the message sent by Bordeaux merchants to their Chinese importers via WeChat on February 12. Their wish is already in the process of being fulfilled, as sales for the Chinese New Year have led to a clear uptick in shipments from the region. In December 2020, Bordeaux appellations saw their consignments to mainland China double in volume. Statistics issued by Business France showed that 42,499 hectolitres of wine worth 28.8 million euros were shipped, translating to volume and value increases of 123% and +44% respectively.

The upturn has been strongly felt by Bordeaux negociants, after the commercial wilderness caused by Covid in 2020. “Starting in January we felt a shudder [then a halt]. The first orders arrived in August, but really got underway in November. We shipped a lot of wine at the end of the year, it was quite intense in November and December, and continued through January”, explains Roland Coiffe, head of Roland Coiffe & Associés, which does 40% of its business in Greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau).

Of the 200 companies he has invoiced in recent years, Roland Coiffe noticed that half of them did not place an order in 2020. “You can feel there is market concentration. There is a constant boom and bust cycle in China, where the number of importers skyrockets then contracts”, says Coiffe. For now, though, the Bordeaux wine trade can certainly wish its Chinese customers "新年快乐 (Happy New Year)”.

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