14 November 2015

Film review: Red Obsession (2013) by David Roach and Warwick Ross, ****

Synopsis

Red Obsession is a film about power, passion and the fine wine game. Something unprecedented is happening to the fine wine market and that something is China. While the dragon economy could bring untold wealth to the revered wine-making region, the terms of engagement are different from any other customer in the past. This market is young, voracious and unpredictable. Demand is massively outstripping supply. The product is finite and this new client wants it all. For better or worse, Bordeaux is hitching itself to this new, infinitely wealthy client. RED OBSESSION sets out to explore this phenomenon and the link between China and Bordeaux.


Review

A most interesting documentary on the rise of wine in Chinese society. The Chinese drank less than one bottle of wine each per year until just a few years ago. They have recently discovered wine. Not just to drink it, but to show it off, to display as a status symbol, and to invest in. In the past the Americans, and then the Japanese, similarly impacted the world of wine, but the sheer scale of the Chinese onslaught is greater by an order of magnitude. One Chinese billionaire who made his fortune selling sex toys has no qualms admitting in front of a camera that he prefers a bottle of great wine to great sex.

I was also pleased to see that some of the most prominent Chinese wine collectors seem to appreciate cigars and pipe smoking but not cigarettes. I can certainly sympathize with that. Great wine drinkers think alike!


While China is furiously planting new vineyards in regions with appropriate terroir and climate, and is already the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, the fascination of prestigiuous Bordeaux makes them spend billions on the most recognizable brands of Chateaux. This is driving the market crazy and may well portend a bubble in the making. Counterfeiting of expensive wines, like of so many other luxury products, is widespread.

It is going to be interesting to see how this pays out. China will soon be the largest producer of wine as well as the largest consumer. It will decisively affect both demand and supply. For now supply is more quantity than quality: local wines are mediocre (with some notable exception) and mostly for local consumption. Demand, on the other hand, is more focussed on quality, with rich Chinese buying only the best of the best. The global wine market is undergoing a Chinese revolution.

See my selection of movies on China on this blog.



1 comment:

  1. Yes, when the dragon awakes, it shakes the world. China is definitely shaking the wine market in the world. Red is usually a symbol of China, associated with auspiciousness, passion and revolution. The pun of the title "red obsession" smartly insinuates the passion and revolution about (red) wine in Chinese market. Although auspicious or not, it 's too soon to tell, as Premier Zhou enlai said, lol.

    This sex toy billionaire did say he preferred sex to wine when he was young, but the other way around when he is old. Does that mean wine appreciation comes with age?

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