A Bordeaux wine too valuable to drink

Surveying the vines of Chateau Pontet Canet, Bordeaux.

Serious wine drinkers know the best red wine in the world comes from vineyards in southwest France -- the Bordeaux region. But a curious thing has happened to the price of wine from that region.

“The top level wines of Bordeaux went up something like 1,000 percent in about five-six years," says Warwick Ross, a co-creator of the new documentary about the skyrocketing price of Bordeaux wines, “Red Obsession.”

There are a couple of reasons, says Ross, that the price has gone up. There’s the classic issue of supply and demand -- fewer bottles of each vintage exist every year as people drink them. 

But five or six years ago -- when that spike happened, the Chinese started buying wine.  

“The Chinese are very brand oriented," Ross says. "They want Nike, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and now Bordeaux.”

And some wine-producing chateaus in Bordeaux, like Château Lafite Rothschild, have had particularly good luck with Chinese buyers.

“Those top level Chateaus that pushed the prices of the 2010 vintage to an all time historic high of something like $2,000 a bottle at retail," he says. "They are making a lot of money.”

Ross says there are plenty of good wines at more reasonable budgets but, “if you’ve got the cash,” drinking a Lafite wine is a “pretty amazing experience.”

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


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