China's burgeoning interest in fine wine is set to get another boost thanks to the arrival of the first batch of Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon into the country. As reported on thedrinksbusiness.com, the much-hyped wine is ready for sale at 3,800 yuan (£384) a bottle, but none of the 1,200 bottles will be sold on the open market. According to China Daily newspaper, Ming’s wine will only be distributed among high-end consumers.
Made through the former basketball player's wine company – Yao Family Wines – the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes come from six vineyard plots in California’s Napa Valley. The 7 foot 6 sport star, who retired from the Houston Rockets in July with a personal net worth of over US$65 million, announced the debut of Yao Ming Wine in November. Along with winemaking, Ming has also moved into politics, taking his seat on Sunday as a new member of the standing committee of Shanghai's political advisory body during its annual session.
He is not the only celebrity in China targeting the booming fine wine market. Chinese movie star Zhao Wei bought the 7-hectare Château Monlot in Bordeaux’s St Emilion region for around €4m last December. It has been reported that she will sell the wine in China. Celebrities investing in the wine industry are hoping to generate profits from the exuberant Chinese market.
However, experts warn that they will need to pay attention to quality in order to maintain custom and establish a good reputation. "For Yao Ming, it was a good marketing strategy to create his own-brand wine. However, it will take a long time for customers to recognise the intrinsic value of the wine and believe it is worthwhile buying," said marketing expert Shu Guohua. "As a Chinese person, I think it will be better for Yao to invest in white spirits. The market demand for white spirits in China is much larger than for red wine,” Guohua added.