“Red Obsession” is about Chinese demand (read obsession) for red wine from Bordeaux, France. It’s an extremely well made documentary by Warwick Ross and David Roach and is narrated by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe. Through the documentary, several chateau owners in Bordeaux, global wine experts and traders, Chinese wine collectors and consultants are interviewed to get multiple perspectives on this growing Chinese demand for Bordeaux red wine and where this demand is headed.
The US used to be the top buyer of wines, but since the financial crisis in 2008, China has taken over that spot. The Chinese are extremely brand conscious, willing to pay a huge premium for wine from a few vineyards such as Chateau Lafite, Latour, and Margaux. China is not just the top buyer of wine, but of vineyards too – many vineyards in France, Australia, and the US (especially California) are being bought by China to sell the wine in China. Read this Hoovers article that details the top five wine consuming countries and states that retired NBA player Yao Ming is launching his own Napa Valley, California winery for the high-end market in China.
China is making wine from vineyards in its Shandong, Shanxi, and Ningxia provinces. In case you think that Chinese wine is not likely to be good, you will be surprised (at least I was!) to know that Chinese wines won 18 medals at the 2011 Decanter World Wine awards. If China did not produce wine for its consumption, and instead just bought wine, wine is likely to become unaffordable for many of us. Chinese demand for wine is, however slowing, according to the documentary and this Bloomberg article.
The Question & Answer session with the Directors Warwick Ross and David Roach was as informative as the documentary was – Burgundy will likely be the next Bordeaux (from a Chinese demand perspective). If you buy / enjoy Bordeaux wine, be prepared to pay a huge premium for bottles from 1961, 1982, 2009, and 2010, because those are some of the best years for Bordeaux wine.
I really enjoyed watching and learning from “Red Obsession” at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. More reviews of Red Obsession are on NPR, Decanter, IMDb, and Wine oh.tv
Read this site if you are just curious about wine drinking in China.
Most of the pictures below are from a trip to Napa valley about 5 years ago.