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This past week, I received a couple emails that expressed concerns regarding my views on the Chinese and their impact on the Bordeaux wine trade. These emails deserve to be addressed as I’ve taken a hard and very opinionated stance. They even ask to be addressed as to allow my readers to know the truth. Thus, I thought I’d clarify my comments regarding my feelings towards the Chinese Consumer and the Bordelais in a response to these two emails. Let me preface this by saying J-P.G. wrote a second email seeing the humor and my perspective in the whole thing.
My name is E.C., a wine lover working involved in wine sector in China Mainland.
My classmate passed me a link to your website (The Wine World: Winning & Losing #7), as he found this picture and he knew the original model is me.
I don’t think your comment underneath the picture is a kind of praise. Also, I don’t like the way you say:
The Chinese – Chateau d’Yquem is just the latest in a long line of overpriced French wine that the Chinese cannot get enough of. Let’s not forget that these are the same toads that pay $700-800/bottle for Torbreck’s Laird. Create enough interest in anything and the Chinese will buy it by the truckload. Obviously not saying d’Yquem is bad, but be original people!
I’m not stealing your wine, but saving the descending European wine industry on behalf of our Chinese people!
Your should feel happy that Crazy Chinese are becoming more and more interest in drinking imported wine.
That’s beneficial to soften economic crisis and maintain world peace.
I earnestly ask you to respect me and the painter Mr.Jean-Pierre GOT and do something good and graceful.
Perhaps one day you happen to come to Guangzhou, I will invite you to dinner and let you know how we Chinese people drink your wines.
Thanks and Regards,
This poster (called “Retour d’Expo”) was created and printed for Interwine China 2007, an international wine trade fair that takes place twice a year in Guangzhou.
The bike you describe as “made from communist tanks” is in fact, my own bicycle, built in France by “Cycle Kela” in 1935.
I am sure your readers will deserve having that correct information.
Dear Madame and Monsieur,
I appreciate your concern over my tone and opinions surrounding the topic. The beauty of running a blog is that it’s a forum for me to voice my opinion, albeit an educated one . In the next few paragraphs I’ll address your concerns and further elaborate my stance on the my interpretation of the current producer/consumer relationship and in my eyes, it’s potential pitfalls.
China's lust for luxury has caused hyper-inflation in the price of Bordeaux wines; however is China to blame?
My issue isn’t primarily with the Chinese; however they’re part of the problem (much in the same light homebuys were at fault for purchasing homes they had no business purchasing in the US). Currently, China is exhibiting the lavish consumer-frenzy that most nations do while going through an economic boom; however with the sheer mass the middle to affluent population that’s spending ungodly amounts of money on luxury good. This includs wine and it’s making that market over-bloated and pricing out a diverse base of people. We’ve seen this before, with commodities, houses, art, etc. and it’s typically ends with staggering casualties for the industry that’s overbought.
Now, according to your email (E.C.), you seem to be under the impression that you are “saving” the French wine market, how magnanimous of you (sarc). What’s potentially happening is the Chinese consumer is creating a Sino centric-bubble that will largely price out the vast majority of people who brought Bordeaux to where it is today and then that bubble will burst. In fact I know this is a real worry as the Chinese government is taking steps to reign in inflation to prevent a potential “hard landing” which would likely happen if they allowed this hedonistic spending to continue. In fact just today, the Chinese government released a statement elaborating the difficulty they’re having with this. Thus, in the short term China is providing tremendous inflows of capital; however the mid-to-long term ramifications could end up being disasterous.
Outside of the rampant consumerism of China, which isn’t solely the Chinese citizens’ fault, as they’re experiencing this increased materialism as a reaction to millenia of individualistic oppression. In fact it wasn’t until the later ’70s & ‘80s that a certain level of individual freedoms really broke through the headwinds.
The real blame in this situation is on the Bordelais chateau owners for embracing severe greed in the light of what is a painful reality in the world. The world’s economic situation is a crap show. Be this as it may, to address E.C. as the savior, if China wasn’t around to buy wine, Bordeaux wines would still be purchased and purchased at steep premiums in great vintages. HOWEVER, the chateaux know the Chinese are willing to pay absurd premiums on top of the premiums already priced in. Thus, even after taking into account a 7-8% increase in the Euro/Dollar exchange, there’s a general additional 10-30% price increase from the ’09 to the ’10 vintage is ludicrous and can even be viewed as exploitation (and that’s not even taking into account the >40% increase on First Growths and top Right Banks). This is especially true considering ’09 is largely equal, if not superior, in quality to ’10. What this illustrates is that chateau owners are nothing more than pimps who are whoring their products, with China playing the role of the Johns. That’s not what wine is about and that’s what I take umbrage to. This will only get worse as more and more outside influences enter the Bordeaux wine market (i.e. wealthy foreign investment, namely Chinese wealth purchasing chateaux to exploit the lust for these wines in their native country).
As for my digs against Communism, well I’m a Capitalist, as is China. Yes, China is capitalist, just not democratic. China at this point loves things of value and status, from wine to high-end cars to luxury apartments, with great socioeconomic disparity throughout the country. Doesn’t sound like Communism to me, yet somehow China still hides behind a guise of Communism that’s largely an extension of its imperial “Middle Kingdom”, self-serving past. Thus, there’s some humor to be had in taking digs here and there. It’s nothing personal, just levity.
As for the painting by J-P.G., I like what it represents, that’s why I selected it. The version used in the post that caused this reaction was one I found on another site (they made the modifications). The joke I attached to it was meant to lend some silliness to a stuffy topic. That’s what my site is all about! Whether the bike is made out of recycled Communist tanks, Peugeots, or Renaults, it doesn’t matter…it’s was a joke!
In the end, it’s my opinion that China is willingly being taken advantage of by the Bordelais with the consideration of wine lovers and collectors from other parts of the globe being largely overlooked. If the Chinese bubble bursts, the base that was there purchasing Pontet-Canet, Pichon-Lalande, Smith-Haut-Laffite and others prior to the 30% increases will already be contentedly diverting their wine dollars elsewhere and may never come back to Bordeaux. Thus, you may not be “saving” Bordeaux, but causing a massive contraction at a future point that could decimate the French wine industry as a whole (as this same scenario is playing out in Burgundy, but on a slightly smaller scale). It’s a shame.
Well, that was deep for a Monday. Enough of this serious sh*t, pour me some wine!