The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Hong Kong’s Changing Tastes, Evolving Market, and Wide-Open Fields

Posted on | April 19, 2012 | Written by Josh Rubenstein | No Comments

The times they are a-changing in Hong Kong, especially if you read into recent happenings in our world of fine wine. For a long while, whiskey and Bordeaux have been the twin standard bearers of the banner for Hong Kong’s finest drink. However, recent trends indicate that our juggernaut wine and spirits market–combined with a shifting collective palate–is ready for a major revolution. Sure, whiskey and Bordeaux will likely remain at the forefront of generally acceptance; however, the community is clearly embracing other wines and spirits with comfort bordering on wild enthusiasm.

This weekend, a wine auction focusing on Italian fine wines will take place in Hong Kong. While many may attend simply to get while the getting is still good, others who’ve been more investment minded will be curious to see how these wines perform at the sport of auction. Will a wine like Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte fly completely under the radar, or might this auction raise its profile among rabid collectors who were previously unfamiliar with its beauty? And more importantly, will this auction drive increased representation for Italian wines at HK’s major auctions going forward?

The announcement that Chateau Latour intends to forego the En Primeur process going forward has also raise, well, every eyebrow in town. The investment machine of En Primeur may be threatened should Latour’s strategy of holding wines until deemed ready for release throws the cash and investment cycle for a loop, particularly if it proves to be successful. As creatures of habit, wine investors are already exploring new strategies rather than packing it in.  Burgundy and many Italian wines immediately offer a supply and demand formula that Bordeaux has managed to thrive despite lacking, and this has investors investigating, instigators instigating, and the rest of us watching intently.

We’ll see what comes of these and other developments in our wine world. Yet it seems 2012 is a crossroads, and every direction now seems possible.  Whichever wine or spirit category finds a way to brand itself as the next big thing is likely to win the day. Regardless, we’re in an exciting stage right now and I’m hopeful that collectors, investors and enthusiasts will embrace whatever lies ahead with the same enthusiasm that’s driven our region to prominence.

At the very least, whoever wins the lots of Le Pergole Torte should enjoy this less-competitive time. I suspect it will not last very long once their friends have a taste.

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