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Asian millionaires fight over French wines at auction

Asian thirsts for French wines has sent prices skyrocketing, and the most prestigious Bordeaux winemakers are reportedly pulling in "astronomical profits."

Asian thirsts for French wines has sent prices skyrocketing, and the most prestigious Bordeaux winemakers are enjoying "astronomical profits," a French newspaper reports.

According to a story in Le nouvel Observateur (reprinted by Worldcrunch, a new global—news site that translates stories in foreign languages into English), new Chinese millionaires attending a May 17 auction in Hong Kong fought over a handful of wines made by Château Latour.

One bottle dating back to 1863 which reportedly sold for 48,730 euros, or about $70,039 at the Christie's auction.

Château Latour belongs to Francois Pinault, a French businessman who specializes in luxury goods and better known in America as the husband of Hollywood actress Salma Hayek. 

The story comes after the opening day of the 30th international wine and spirits fair in Bordeaux.

Amid financial turmoil in Europe and other regions, wine-makers had expected much from the rising demand of emerging market economies and in particular countries such as China, Reuters reports.

"We have gone through an unprecedented crisis but are in a substantial market," Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, reportedly said at the opening ceremony. "We see good prospects, especially in the fast-growing economies of Asia and in particular in China."

It was something of a repeat performance for French winemakers with First Growth status under the 1885 Bordeaux Classification.

In October 2010, Château Lafite Rothschild, from the French wine-producing region of Pauillac, organized an auction in Hong Kong that saw buyers fighting over a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild 1869, which was sold for more than 160,000 euros, or nearly $230,000 today.

According to the report, French winemakers have reacted to the auctions by hiking the prices of their wines, which doesn't seem to deter the aforementioned wealthy Chinese.

Other favored French labels include Medoc and Saint-Emilion.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/wine-french-asia-alcohol-francois-pinault-salma-hayek