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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, October 09 2009. 13:31

Fine Wine Hub Switching to Hong Kong

The brilliant decision last February by the Hong Kong government making it a duty-free wine zone has already made it a fine wine hub with Sotheby’s Auction last week-end grossing $7.9 million; its  two auctions this year of $14.3 million zooming past the total sales of $10.5 million in New York and $8 million in London.

Although New York is expected to remain overall the largest market for vintage wines for some time, Hong Kong is gaining fast, with the nouveau rich wine connoisseurs expected to invest around $60 million in wine auctions, twice as much as London might manage this year.

The rival auctioneer Christie's also said that its recent auctions have shown that Hong Kong is taking over New York and London as its largest wine market. DelWine has been regularly reporting the rise of this market in the hope that the Indian bureaucrats can apply their minds to the big picture and consider lowering duties.

A major reason for the Hong Kong boom  has been the government’s pro-active decision to scrap duties totally on February 27 April 2008 which were reduced from 80%  to 40% in the previous year. DelWine had published a report which may be viewd at

The market really began to boom with the government also scrapping most of the paperwork related to wine imports- importers were allowed to have customs inspection inside the wine warehouses.

Of course the global recession has eroded the wealth of many US and UK investors who have been pushed back on their luxury purchase like vintage wine investments. China's economy has suffered less and is bouncing back faster. At the Sotheby's auction, a 6-L Imperial bottle of the legendary 1982 Chateau Petrus Imperial was purchased by a bidder from China for a record $93,000.

‘The balance of power in the wine world is now shifting from West to East’, seems to be the common refrain and not only in Hong Kong which pipped Singapore, another financial center in the South East Asia that did not give enough thought to the impact of duty waiver and still has a duty structure that does not find favour with the locals.

Hong Kong collectors have been buying fine wine earlier too but they were storing it outside the country due to heavy (80%!!) taxation. Now, they have been buying and bringing back their stocks to the temperature controlled cellars. Hong Kong being a part of China but with free administrative powers, is also attracting unprecedented interest in the parent market, along with many other smaller Asian nations; over 98% of the bids at the Sotheby’s are reported to be from Asians.

It could not be ascertained if and how much Indian interest was visible at these auctions. With the uncountable and unaccounted-for money of Indian czars floating around outside India, auctions and duty free storage with chances of good appreciation, Hong Kong now offers a wonderful opportunity to the modern day nawaabs- the politicians, bureaucrats and successful industrialists and businessmen with a sophisticated taste or a nose to make money. Even genuine wine lovers can indulge in their passion with lots of 1-or 2 bottles with an investment for less than a couple of thousand dollars.

The pro-active interest of the government to make this miracle happen is well lauded internationally. Admits the top UK wine critic and author, Jancis Robinson MW, ‘I have never before, in my 30-plus years in wine, witnessed a government so consciously targeting the fine-wine market.’ With zero duties and excellent logistics in place, Hong Kong hopes to become the main hub for wine trade in Asia as well as the central offices for the region's wine importers.

DelWine has been in the forefront in reporting wine activities in Hong Kong, since we believe it would be a trend setting marketing hub of the future. For some of our earlier articles, read    


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