A price index for 150 top-end Burgundies—delicate reds that pair well with festive meals—rose 27% over the year through November, reports Liv-ex, a marketplace for fine wines. Merchants are “starting to wonder if a bubble is forming,” says the company’s annual market review.
The wine industry is sensitive to bubbles. Chinese buyers pushed top-end Bordeaux prices up to heady heights in 2011. The market collapsed when Beijing clamped down on gift-giving. If Burgundy is the new Bordeaux, it could spell trouble.
The classification system for better-quality Burgundy is underpinned by “terroirs”—strips of farmland thought to impart special qualities to the grapes grown there. It is more complicated than the system in Bordeaux, a region on the opposite side of France, which revolves around a strict hierarchy of “châteaux” that make wine in far larger quantities. Liv-ex research analyst Edward Jackson says buyers from the Far East have started to master this complexity. “In 2011 Burgundy wasn’t really a thing in Asia. Now merchants in Hong Kong are selling more and more of it.”
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