Introduce Yourself

Snooth User: Quentin4

New user... from Asia

Posted by Quentin4, Aug 3, 2009.


I have chosen to settle down for a long while in Asia (Singapore) and I am currently trading wine here, mainly from my own countries (France/Italy) and other old world countries.
And I have to say, wine countries such as France, Italy, the States and many more, can thank this part of the world for not beeing shy to open some serious bottles!
I have had the chance to drink more fine wines here in two years, than 10 years back in Europe! And all this during the worst economical crisis of all time... so imagine when good times will be back ;o)
Anyway, for those of you whom want to ask question on the trade in this part of the world, feel free to leave me a message...
And if you have a few minutes to spare of your busy day, you can also find me on my blog.



Reply by Philip James, Aug 3, 2009.

Quentin - welcome to the site. One of our board members actually lives in Singapore as well. Hoping I can come up with an excuse to go visit him

Reply by George Parkinson, Aug 3, 2009.

great to have a link to Asia. How do you find the trading to China? I have a few "brothers" living there and I find it interesting how China is slowly becoming an open market for the West.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 3, 2009.

Welcome Quentin.

I'm looking forward to the addition of your perspective on the world of wine!

Reply by Quentin4, Aug 3, 2009.

Hi Blog4wine,

In my opinion China is still a real tuff market to deal with. But it is clear that the elite which represents 1% of the population (meaning 15 million people!) has the spending power, cultural education and will to learn and discover wines. Sadly, at the moment only the most famous wines make it through; because the Elite in China do not like to loose face and when they go to a dinner with friends or clients, they will bring a first growth no matter what.
since HK was handed back to China, there has been a real push towards the development of the industry. Wines imported to HK now, are duty free and tax free! Therefore, many wines are imported to HK and then transported through to China.
This will probably help the supply of new wines into the China, but considering the gigantic size of the country, it will definitely take time to be a friendly and open market...

Reply by dmcker, Aug 3, 2009.

Any opinions on counterfeit issues regarding name-brand wines (e.g. the Bordeaux first growths you mention) in China?

How are duties, etc., in Singapore right now?

Reply by Quentin4, Aug 3, 2009.

There has been some issues indeed on the matter. I am not too sure what are the actions taken by the gouvernment, but there is a definite awarness of the problem and collectors are a lot more careful these days. One of the reason, ex-chateau prices have climbed in recent years.
With regards to Singapore, the duty for wine is around S$7.5 per bottle (US$ 5.2) and the gouvernment tax, called GST, which is 7% of the value. The Singapore market is one of asia most organised and friendly, but it only represent a small % of the 4.5 million people living here. And the competition is high, because they are already hundreds of suppliers covering the market...

Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2009.

I've had hundreds of bottles (maybe even four figures? ;-) ) of wine in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia over the years. I've found that well more than half of them have been subject to damage, even in Singapore, though Singapore is head and shoulders above the others with regard to wine variety and condition. How do you find consciousness about this now in Singapore and elsewhere? Usually it forces me to drink beer or distilled spirits, though I definitely want wine with my Italian in Singapore... ;-)

Reply by Quentin4, Aug 4, 2009.

It is a problem indeed and it mainly comes from some big importers and their storage facilities. Wine is a very fragile product and you can imagine that after spending 3 weeks on a boat at sea and beeing store with no aircon at 90 degrees fahrenheit for another week or two, it end up in a really bad shape on your restaurant table. Including Damaged labels, dried corks, etc...
Singapore, like Japan and HK and some other countries now, are getting a lot more conscious of this problem and do as much as possible to limit transport and storage damages.
We, as many now in Singapore, for example, use refregirated containers to import the wines, which are then stored in a state-of-the-art cellar with 365 days a year, temperature and humidity control. It has a cost of course, but ensure the wines are handled the best way possible until they reach the restaurants or the private collector's cellar.
So I guess, if you come back to Singapore, you should see a difference when ordering wine in a restaurant and maybe not have to drink beer or spirit with your Pasta ;-)

Reply by basilwino, Sep 15, 2009.

Hey! Selamat Datang Quentin. Nice episode on Bottoms Up. I am so glad you are in Singapore. Maybe now my family can drink decent wine. In all my time there, the wine selection had been pretty crappy. It was either "left overs" from the producing countries, damadged, or super pricey "brand name" wines. Nothing that the average drinker could enjoy. Most people tried wine and quickly decided it was not for them especially with great beer around. The spirits selection was okay.

Reply by Quentin4, Sep 15, 2009.

Selamat Datang! Thanks for the kind words. I am glad to be part of the changing trend of wine drinking in Singapore and Asia. Feel free to contact me if you are looking for wines :o)

Reply by cigarman168, Sep 15, 2009.

Hi Quentin,

Nice to know you and happy to learn from you while I am also doing wines business in Hong Kong but I am just a beginners. I very agree with your points about the Hong Kong and China markets and especially Hong Kong is a very potential markets for its tax free wines policy and predominant position to trade wines into China. Actually, our governemnt is planning to make Hong Kong as a wines centre in Asia though a lots things still need to do.

On the other hands, can you share with me any ideas or practise that you think can stop or prevent counterfeit issues especially for first growth France wines.


Reply by dmcker, Sep 16, 2009.

One approach would be to try to limit your purchases of First Growths and even garagiste or cult wines, to reputable agents in France, London or the USA. This would include both auction houses and wine merchants. There are reputable agents in Japan and Australia, as well, but you're just adding another layer of cost, so it would be better to get closer to source with purchases from the first three I mention. Finally, if you are mobile enough to travel to France and other parts of Europe, like Switzerland or Germany, and have developed an information-gathering network of your own to where you can find out about them, keep a lookout for estate sales. Surprising finds can be made when a collector with a large cellar dies and his wife or someone else who is not as knowledgeable decides to liquidate any number of assets, including the wine, in expedient fashion.

You should also, of course, familiarize yourself with all the telltale signs of a forgery. Get to know the bottles, labels, capsules, color of the wine through the bottle, etc. for real bottles. And if the source of any bottle you're looking at can't be safely confirmed, be very, very skeptical. I currently live in Tokyo, and nobody I know here, either in the business or serious collectors, will buy any fine French wines from Chinese sources....

Reply by cigarman168, Sep 16, 2009.

Hi Dmcker,

Appreciate much your informative reply. I learn more. On the other hands, I just wonder Winery can try to adopt some advance technology ie RFID devices that I know has used in some "Motai" in China to distinguish the fake one.

Any books or website you recommend that we can study more the telltale signs of a forgery.

BTW, are you also in wines business. Keep contacts and hope to have chance to drinks wine together.


Reply by dmcker, Sep 16, 2009.

I know people in Japan who are using radio-frequency identification devices, and smart paper, as well, in place of or supplementary to barcodes on any number of products. Not wine, though. You obviously would need to talk to the great Chateaux of Bordeaux, very persuasively, to have that remedy implemented.

Because of my experience with magnetic strip products and smart cards in the past, however, I imagine at some point a really ambitious forger would be able to get ahold of the same type of devices, and machines and codes used to program them, as the devices implanted in any genuine bottles that did employ RFIDs, and thus would be able to counterfeit them, too. A cost issue, as much as anything else, but if the recent trends in pricing for First Growths and other premiere wines continue as they have with, say, the 2005 vintage year, then I'm sure some forgers will figure the effort and cost are warranted.

I'm not in the wine industry per se, but am an enthusiastic amateur who has been on its fringes for a couple of decades. I have helped out industry members with specific projects from time to time, as personal favors. My work has been more in IT-related areas, though I've been taking some time off recently.

Below are a small sampling of URLs from a *very* quick and dirty search regarding wine forgeries. I haven't worked with any professionals in this field, and know that even a little more time searching will bring further options. The first article is about forgeries in Italy, which is also facing problems in this area, not just regarding the most famous labels from Tuscany or Piedmont. The second URL points to a range of detection techniques. The third refers to some intricate techniques in Europe that involve measuring the occurrence of site-specific isotopes in wine samples, and some carbon-dating techniques under research in Australia for post-1954 vintages (these would, however, entail actual sampling of the wine).

All of these talk about techniques that are still in the R&D stage. In the meantime, I stand by the approaches I recommend in my first post.

Reply by Quentin4, Sep 16, 2009.

Indeed all of these are ways of fighting forgery, but as mentionned before, the best way to avoid the nightmare of buying fake goods is to find the right source. UK is in general the easiest way to start, because they are the ones buying a good chunk of the en primeur compain and they are usually very reliable. Always look for the big names first and compare their prices to make a better choice when you place your order. They are not usually negotiating prices and what you see is pretty much what you pay, but at least it's study prices that will be a good reference for other markets.
I heard stories of people buying wines at a third of their market price and telling me they did a great deal... but my philosophy is you get what you pay, and if you pay something way below market price, it probably means it's not the real thing.
Koch's case of fraudulent wines is only another reminder that in the fine wine business, the source is what makes the wine worth something...

Reply by cigarman168, Sep 16, 2009.

So, we can conclude that buying from turstworthy sources is crucial. And we can see many people from Mainland China just buy luxury goods in Hong Kong.

And I believe our Goverment, wine industries players need to make sure the no fakes pledge before we can be the wine trading centres in Asia.

Reply by Martingauthier, Nov 7, 2009.

Hello Quentin,

Any information on the Marina Bay Sands development? Are they any plans for some Wine Bars, French Bistro (Ducasse, Robuchon, etc.) This is suppose to be the ultimate resorts in Singapore. Any idea about wine related venues?


Reply by dmcker, Apr 14, 2010.

An update on fraud fighting techniques can be found here, from BusinessWeek/Bloomberg.

Some interesting quotes:

  • To combat counterfeiting, wineries are combining the ancient art of winemaking with cutting-edge technology. They’re putting tiny radio-frequency ID tags inside labels, embedding microscopic material into the ink printed on the bottles, and even carbon dating wine to ensure authenticity. It’s an arms race with the counterfeiters, who are attracted to the industry because of the soaring prices of rare wines at auction. In the past five years, prices of the 100 most sought-after wines have increased almost threefold, according to the Liv-ex fine-wine index.
  • The wine industry is behind other fields in adopting anti- counterfeiting technology, Ivey says. Tobacco, pharmaceuticals and ID-document companies have made it a higher priority, he says. “It certainly isn’t at the stage yet where we’re seeing security divisions within wineries that think about nothing but protecting their brands,” Ivey said. “It’s usually a person or two who kind of acknowledges within a winery that there is a problem.”



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