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The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Front Page -

The winds of change in China are most ob­vi­ous in the big­gest cities, but there are more than 100 cities with a pop­u­la­tion ex­ceed­ing one mil­lion, and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is mov­ing to de­velop those parts of western China that have so far lagged be­hind in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. De­mand will con­tinue to in­crease, and the ques­tion is which coun­tries will be able to sup­ply it. The an­swer isn’t easy. Chile casts the longest shadow but (sub­ject to aber­rant weather) tra­di­tional Euro­pean mar­kets will also hap­pily join the party. Italy, the south of France, South Africa and Western Europe will all of­fer to help. Will Aus­tralia’s pro­duc­ers re­al­lo­cate some of the wine that would nor­mally be sold on the do­mes­tic mar­ket and ear­mark it for ex­port to China?

Here’s the ele­phant in the room: economists look­ing at Asia say there is an emerg­ing mid­dle class with dis­pos­able in­come that is likely to du­pli­cate that of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic. In­dia is most fre­quently dis­cussed but there’s also Myan­mar, Thai­land, Viet­nam, Malaysia, Cam­bo­dia, Laos, In­done­sia, Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan, South Korea and Ja­pan. All are buy­ing more wine than ever be­fore.

Back home, it ap­pears that both sup­ply and de­mand are op­er­at­ing to lift prices, and will con­tinue to do so over the medium term. Be­hind these lo­cal forces, prices of top French wines are surging with un­prece­dented speed. The prices of the newly ar­riv­ing red Bur­gundies, for ex­am­ple, are eye-wa­ter­ing. Here, too, the China fac­tor is in play, forc­ing pinot lovers to bal­ance their spend with a mix of im­ported and lo­cal wines.

What was the out­come for the prices of the 80 still ta­ble wines se­lected for the Top 100? Nine were priced be­tween $100 and $500; 20 be­tween $50 and $99, and an­other 15 be­tween $30 and $49 each. For var­i­ous rea­sons, none con­cerned with qual­ity, the two most ex­pen­sive wines on the mar­ket (Grange and Hill of Grace) weren’t cho­sen; oth­er­wise, the weighted av­er­age price would have been even higher. ●

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