by | Dec 11, 2012 | Markets

Singapore-bound Wine Advocate embraces an Asian market that has come of age

The Wall Street Journal reports that wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. will be ending the print version of his newsletter, the Wine Advocate and stepping down as editor-in-chief.

Stepping up to replace him will be the newsletter’s Singapore-based correspondent, Lisa Perrotti-Brown. Stepping in to acquire a substantial interest in and run the Wine Advocate’s day-to-day financial operations is a trio of Singapore investors. And, oh yes, the company headquarters is moving to Singapore.

The WSJ says the changes “reflect Asia’s rise as a prime consumer of wine and other luxury goods.”

Indeed, with purchases of 156 million cases of wine in 2011, the Chinese market alone is the world’s fifth largest, according to BusinessWeek. And, as the BusinessWeek story goes on to relate, China’s own vintners have their eye on this market opportunity. China’s nascent domestic industry is commanding new respect beyond its borders: Wine Advocate editor Perrotti-Brown has already announced plans to hire a new China-based correspondent to cover wines produced in China, Thailand and other Asian countries. Our own trade data confirms that the Chinese product is finding favor in export markets (see the line chart below).

For now, China’s wine exports are a fraction of its wine imports – still on the rise, with France accounting for more than half of imports by value (more charts below). There’s opportunity here for US labels as well – imports from the States increased 35% 2010-2011.

So, is the wine world’s center of gravity shifting? Here’s what Jim Bryce says about the Wine Advocate move on the Grape Wall of China blog: “I’ve already seen doom and gloom posts on Twitter re this deal. I mean, selling to investors in… Singapore? What good could possibly come of that? My guess is these same people would have scoffed a few years ago at the idea of Hong Kong becoming the world’s top wine auction hub, of China making wines that could win notable awards, of the rapid growth in wine connoisseurs in Asia, of… well, I think you get the idea.”

You can learn more about international trade in wine from our data, just ask us.

Update: On December 12, a spokeswoman for the Wine Advocate told the WSJ that the newsletter will remain in print, and its headquarters will remain in Maryland. The Singapore office will be “a second office.”

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