Chinese thirst sees money pouring into sales of fine wines

WINE has gained more value this year than either gold or shares, driven largely by Chinese demand.

According to research from the Bordeaux Index – which tracks live changes in the prices of 80 to 100 of the most traded wines – demand for fine wine grew by 26 per cent in the year to date, and 39 per cent in 2009.

Demand for premium wines above £80 far outstrips supply. One wine, Chateau Lafite, is not ready to drink yet, but sold at a Hong Kong auction for £43,000 a case – three times its market value.

Wine merchants do not see a speculative bubble forming, despite the rapid price rise. Gary Boom, managing director and founder of Bordeaux Index, says that most wine sold leaves London, suggesting that investors actually consume the wine.

The news comes as the Hong Kong International Spirits and Wines fair begins. The Fair is the largest in Asia, and has twice as many vendors this year as last. Hong Kong now has more wine auctions than London, trailing only New York.

The Bordeaux Index research also showed prices for the most popular wines climbed 1.7 per cent during October, driven largely by a 45 per cent rise in turnover compared with the same month a year ago.

Boom said: “With continued strong growth in both Asia and Latin America – and expected improvements from the US and Europe – we’re confident investors’ money will continue to flow into wine over the next two months.”