“When China wakes, the world will tremble”. This was said in 1816 by none other than Napoleon, and with good reason the prophecy may now be considered fulfilled.
The prestigious houses of Bordeaux know something about it, since month after month they are seeing the prices of their bottles increase vertiginously, thanks to the urgency of requests made by the Asian market. And the principle international auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, are doing a roaring trade in Fine Wine. On Thursday, 28 October, Sotheby’s astonished everybody, succeeding in auctioning a single bottle of Lafite Rothschild, the most requested wine in the Chinese market, for the shocking price of 233,972 dollars. This record was broken a mere two weeks later, when on 16 November in Geneva Christie’s sold a bottle of 1947 Imperiale di Chateau Cheva Blanc for 255,000 euros, transforming that bottle into the most expensive wine in the world.
In China the Lafite case is closely followed by market analysts, and it is the demonstration of the enormous desire of the Chinese nouveau riche for luxury, making them willing to go to any length to claim the symbols of their newly acquired economic status. In the span of a couple of years, Lafite has almost tripled its prices, and anyone who managed, in the preceding years, to get a hold of a good supply of this label is now rubbing his eyes in disbelief. It is enough to consider that the vintages between 2000 and 2004 were acquired en primeur at prices that oscillated between 120 and 200 euros, and today those same bottles of wines are reaching prices between 800 and 1200 euros per bottle. The second Lafite wine, denominated Carruades de Lafite, has enjoyed an analogous increase in value, passing from an average of 60-70 euros in the last few years to 300-350 euros today.
If it is true that such a sudden rise in the value of this wine could cause increased price volatility, one cannot deny that today’s market is offering extraordinary opportunities.