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Sichel’s sales to China surge by 15%

Published:  02 February, 2018

Bordeaux winemaker Sichel’s exports to China surged 15% in 2017 as Chinese demand for French wine continues to explode.

Strong sales of Sichel’s Grand Cru wines were a key driver of the growth, with mature vintages performing particularly well, said the company.

The company’s contract winemaking business, which accounts for 20% of overall sales, performed particularly well in China following investment in Sichel’s Bel Air winery.

“Our capability at Bel Air and the fact we work with long-standing partners year-round means we can produce wines to certain styles and price points,” said export director Charles Sichel.

In spite of sterling’s plummeting value and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, Sichel also noted a strong performance in exports to Britain.

“We can smooth out vintage variations,” he added. “I think some of the UK buyers who have been down recently have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the 2017.”

The boom in Sichel’s exports to China reflects growing demand for French wines in the Far East. According to figures from wine competition Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Chinese wine imports passed $2 billion last year, up 37% since 2014.

“China is the largest export market for Bordeaux wines by a good margin,” said a spokesman. “Wine consumers in China number 38 million, offering real opportunities for winegrowers - 40% of Chinese enthusiasts are aged between 18 and 29.”

Sichel’s growth in the UK defies current trends, with supermarkets increasingly turning to New World producers. According to sales figures from IRI, value sales of French wine fell by 5% last year, while sales of Argentinian and New Zealand wine were up in double digits.