China bigger market than U.S. for crisis-hit Bordeaux

Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:38am EST
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By Marcel Michelson

PARIS (Reuters) - China has become the biggest export market for Bordeaux wines outside the European Union as overall exports have collapsed due to the economic crisis and a strong euro put some wines beyond U.S. and British buyers.

The sector has high hopes of the 2009 harvest with young wines being presented to the international trade and specialized journalists over the coming weeks.

"The situation is difficult for everybody," Alain Vironneau, chairman of the CIVB Bordeaux wine body, said Thursday.

"Several hundreds of vineyards are at peril due to insufficient cash...Our companies, especially the smallest, need financial support," he added during a news conference.

He called the 2009 sales year "catastrophic" with exports down 14 percent in volume and 23 percent in value.

However, he added that during the past three months there had been a slight revival that could indicate the depth of the crisis is behind and the 2009 'millisime' wines could help the sector recover again.


Bordeaux sold 661 million bottles of wine in 2009 for revenues of 3.37 billion euros ($4.57 billion) for wines ranging from low-price supermarket wines to top Chateaux.   Continued...

<p>A guest tastes wine in Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in Martillac, southwestern France, March 30, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>