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  • http://english.dbw.cn   2011-02-24 09:33:22
     

     

    People examine a bottle of Moutai in Shanghai, where an auction of vintage Chinese spirits will be held on Sunday. (Photo source: China Daily)

     

    Price of vintage Moutai soars, fueled by thirst for alternative investments.

    A small bottle of vintage Chinese spirit sitting in a timeworn cupboard of a house in Shanghai has turned out to be worth more than one million yuan ($152,000) as China's Moutai auction market heats up.

    Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co Ltd has welcomed a special group of customers during the past two weeks - more than 600 elderly Shanghai residents, all aged between 60 and 80 years old. They all came for one reason - to try to find a good buyer for their vintage Moutai.

    "I watched the news last night, which indicated that aged Moutai sells for more than 10,000 yuan provided that it has been kept well," said 71-year-old retired worker, Jiang Changrong. "That's why I'm here to try my luck."

    A bottle of Moutai produced in 1958 was sold for more than 1.5 million yuan at an auction in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, last September. With few investment options open to them, many private Chinese investors are speculating on the price of spirits, especially Moutai.

    After witnessing heated auctions of vintage Moutai held in Hangzhou, Beijing and Nanjing, Fan Ganping, vice-president of the auction house, decided to arrange Shanghai's first auction of the traditional spirit.

    A hundred and ten pre-1990 bottles will be offered at the auction on Sunday. A bottle of 1955 vintage, the earliest ever seen on the market, stands a good chance of breaking the existing price record and winning the crown of "the most expensive Moutai" in China.

    "The bottles for auction are collected from more than 600 residents across the city," said Fan. "More people are sending in their collections than we expected - around 500 people came in less than two days, and most of them are senior residents."

    According to Gan, the upcoming Moutai auction will also be the first time that such a large number of the goods for auction came from the grassroots level.

    "A decent bottle of Moutai, especially the ones produced by the renowned Kweichow Moutai company, was a good gift to give for weddings during the 1960s and 1970s, which is why the older generation usually kept them as souvenirs," said Gan.

    "Someone came to me hoping to auction two bottles of Kweichow Moutai, which he purchased for 3.5 yuan each in 1966. I think they will easily sell for 300,000 yuan each. Never in his wildest dreams would he expect such a big increase in value."

    However, the scale of the auction in Shanghai is nothing compared with Hong Kong's wine auctions. Hong Kong overtook the United States as the world's wine auction capital in 2010 and it has every intention of keeping that title, judging by its first four sales this year.

    According to figures provided by Wine Spectator magazine, the sales brought in $34.7 million in the first month of 2011 alone. Between Jan 21 and 23, 2,611 lots were offered in Hong Kong by Sotheby's and Acker Merrall & Condit, bringing in $25.5 million.

    Related readings: Moutai Riddle: Pricier in China, cheaper abroad Moutai liquor sales boom before Spring Festival Moutai prices cut by nearly half in foreign markets Moutai uncorks plans for output, revenue "Compared with them, our Moutai market is still emerging," said Fan. "But I can't see why we can't grow into a much bigger and stronger market within a few years."

    However, there are concerns that Moutai manufacturers are trying to manipulate the market price.

    On Jan 1, Kweichow Moutai raised the factory price of Flying Moutai by 20 percent, bringing it to 619 yuan a bottle. The company also suggested a maximum retail price of 959 yuan, 90 yuan higher than the previous maximum.

    "It's possible that manufacturers buy vintage Moutai at a relatively high price at auctions to promote their own brands - upgrading the traditional Chinese liquor into a luxury one, so that they can further increase their prices," said Tony Jiang, an associate sommelier from the Shanghai Wine Club Association.

    Author:    Source: xinhua     Editor: Yang Fan

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