World’s Largest Wine and Spirits Show
Vinexpo Bordeaux, France June 19 – 23, 2011
by Jane Rosenstein, VT Paris Bureau
Every two years, Vinexpo, the world’s largest professional wine and spirits show attracts international buyers and sellers at the Bordeaux Exhibition Centre in Bordeaux, France. The admission price for those not having invitations was 40 Euros. This year for the 30th Vinexpo 48,122 professionals from 148 countries attended which was an increase of 3.22% from 2009. There was a record attendance of foreign ( not French) visitors including visitors from Asia- Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia .
The number of Asian visitors exceeded the expectations of the organizers. The second largest country for foreign visitors was U.K. and third is U.S. Amongst European visitors the Germans and Belgiums were numerous. There were large numbers of Russian, Dutch and Swiss visitors. With 2,400 exhibitors from 47 countries, meeting visitors form 148 countries, it was very crowded. It is predicted that wine and spirits consumption will expand by 2% in the next 5 years.
The Bordeaux Lake Exhibition Center A floating bridge was installed to enable visitors to go between the three exhibition halls at the exhibition center and the Convention Centre. There was a beautiful outside area with restaurant pavilions constructed just for the event. I attended two luncheons in the Bordeaux Pavilions. As it was sunny and warm, the area was beautiful.
People were well dressed. Most women wore colorful summer dresses and men wore short sleeved or long sleeved shirts, dark trousers and jackets. People enjoyed meeting others outside and enjoying a drink or lunch in the outside restaurants which offered specials promoting wine. The attendees I talked to told me that they came there to meet with wine producers they knew, meet others they did not know and see their colleagues in the wine and spirits business.
A theme of art and wine was presented.The exhibition gardens featured about 40 monumental sculptures, to correlate wine with art. The colored sculptures by Rotraut which were exhibited around the exhibition centre were particularly interesting.
The number of visitors from foreign countries increased but not from France which accounted for 68% of all visitors representing a majority. One third of all non-French visitors were Asian.
China sent 150% more than in 2009 2,974 professionals ranking the country first in
non-French visitors followed by Taiwan up 65%, Singapore up 71%, India up 26%, Viet Nam up 116%, Malaysia up 74%. Even after the horrible earthquake 363 Japanese professionals came to Vin Expo. France was number one in visitors, followed by China, USA with 1,403 visitors, UK with 1,342 and Belgium with 1,172.
This year a new development,Tastings by Vinexpo,”offered visitors an opportunity to taste and get information about different wine. It was a success as 13, 250 professionals attended. There were conferences and presentation.
Vinexpo offered journalists opportunities to meet the buyers and sellers, attend some special luncheons to meet important guests and some after hours gatherings to meet others in more informal setting. There was a large media coverage as 1,254 journalists from 54 countries.attended and I can attest that many visited the press lounge often. It was hard to get a seat at a table or to use the PCs. There was widespread newspaper, radio and TV coverage of this important show. Journalists had the opportunities to interact with one another and to meet the CEOs and owners present at their respective booths.
I was happy to have attended and had some surprising interesting experiences during my trip there. which was from Saturday, June 19 – Wednesday, June 22. I went to cover the event for Veterans Today, to discover new wines, Armagnac and champagne and spirits to meet
producers I already knew and to meet other visitors and journalists
Since Bordeaux is only 3 hours from Paris by TGV ( rapid train) and since I was invited to a special event organized by a wine producer in a chateau( castle) on Saturday night, I left around noon on Saturday. When I arrived I was greeted by a man I knew from Couch Surfers (www.couchsurfers.org) an organization where people can surf ( stay overnight) on someone’s couch and/or meet them for coffee or a drink.
This organization is great because when visitors come they get to meet people living in the city. I had good opportunities before so I was happy when a man offered to meet me at the train station and take me to my hotel. I met a Romanian symphony conductor who came to Paris and had dinner with him and my friend Erez who works at a Jewish cultural organization. He wanted to tell us about his program to organize concerts in Paris. In San Sebastian, I met a man who took me to see outside Spanish sculptures.
When I asked the hotel how to get to the chateau, they called the Tourist Office and were told I should take a taxi. I asked the price– 70 Euros which is about $100 each way. I called the producer and they said they did not provide transportation. Luckily I had been in contact with a lady from Couch Surfers. She invited me to meet others from the group at her place for drinks. There were people from England and other cities in France. We had a good time.Then we all went dancing until the early hours of the morning!!
Sunday ,I went to Vin Expo and met several wine producers. I tasted some wine and made some great contacts. Then around 5:30 I went to the parking lot to join others in a camping car sent by to go to Chateau Tire-Pei owned by David & Helene Barrault. their chateau where we were invited to “Off Vinexpo” an event under the title “Contains Sulfites …Mais pas trop ( Contains sulfites but not too many”) to sample wines from producers from Bordeaux and other areas in France and have a delicious barbecue The wines were great and the producers told us about the wine.,the barbecue of brochettes of duck, brochettes of vegetables, vegetables was delicious.
Then they brought out cheese for dessert. I never saw such a variety of delicious cheese most of which I do not know the names of and I have been living in France for over 10 years! Of course there were pastries and other desserts. Music was provided by a combo. Then the chateau drove us back to our hotels! What great hospitality.
Monday it was back to Vin Expo to meet more wine producers. I tasted some alcoholic drinks, had some free breakfast of croissant and coffee at a producer of spirits and met a producer I knew.
Then I went to a luncheon organized by Conseil Interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux (Interprofessional Council of the wine from Bordeaux) to introduce a preview of the book by Jacques Du Pont “Le Guide des vins de Bordeaux.” to be published by Bernard Grasset, Publisher, September, 2011. Jacques Du Pont is a journalist for the magazine Le Pointe and is the first journalist in the 1990s to have created special wines in the French press. Each September Le Point has a special edition dedicated to wine and it is rated the number one of its kind. Red and white wine was offered along with cold cuts and cheese and small cakes.
It was stand up buffet as is now becoming popular for some business lunches in France. We heard a speech by Jacques Du Pont and received a copy of a small introductory booklet which has excerpts from his book. It is not a book to tell you how to organize your wine cellar – if you want to do that just buy two -thirds of the wine to drink now and a third to age. It is not a book to know how to store wine. It is how to go from one chateau to another, to find information about years of wine ( vintages),wine making processes and soils. Wine is an experience to be shared and you will meet some men and women . This book tells about growing the wine , harvesting, wine making and the decisions wine producers make. It is the story of Jacques’ experiences in vineyards, in storehouses and even in kitchens. We enjoyed meeting Jacques and others who worked for the press.
Then I had a meeting with an agent I knew and her producer. As it was hot we did not want to sit outside and could not find any places to sit inside as the produces had their own booths. I took the opportunity to invite the two to have a drink in the press lounge. We were treated well and offered a choice of beverages – coffee, juice, water, wine and champagne. We found some seats although the lounge was almost full. There were PCs., printers and even free storage of books and baggage. They gave a free catalogue ( value 30 euros) to members of the press.
After visiting some other producers of wine from France and Spain, I went to the event organized by Bureau National Interpofessionnel de l’Armagnac ( International Council of Armagnac) which was in the Pullman Bordeaux . The Armagnac both Armagnac and
la blanche ( white) accompanied by delcious food. First their were appetizers and then smoked salmon, oysters on the half shell and hot food. I quickly went for the oysters before they were all gone. I met some if interesting men and women including some Armagnac producers. After dinner we had drinks of Armagnac and also coffee and dessert. There was also a smoking fountain of Armagnac. We tasted Armagnac straight, white Armagnac and Armagnac cocktails. We drank a lot but no one got drunk!
Tuesday was an interesting , challenging day. First I checked out of the hotel because I was invited to stay with an a pal of a friend of mine. Then I went to Vinexpo to meet more producers and to go to a special luncheon for journalists.
The special luncheon, organized by the Conseil Interprofessionnel ldu vin de Bordeaux in their pavillon to honor the guest of honor Mr. Anthony Lau. Hong Kong will be the guest of honor for “Bordeaux Fait le Vin” Bordeaux Vin Expo in 2012. Every other year Vinexpo organizes this event for the general public. We met Mr. Lau, who shook hands with us, and then had the same buffet lunch as Monday. I met many interesting people from the press.
After visiting some Spanish wine producers and Armagnac producers I went back to the hotel to get my luggage and met the pal of my friend. We were planning to celebrate La Festival de la Musique together and he invited me to stay at his place. It is one time a year that music is played outside until the early morning hours. We were on the way to his car which he left at the railway station since parking was scarce due to Vinexpo, at the tramway station, when he told me his sister had a car accident and was in the hospital. He left me and all my luggage ( I had a small suitcase, a carryon bag, my P.C., Vin Expo attache from the press room and some Spanish wine in a small bag ) in the street by the tramway station.. I knew not to panic but all the hotels were full. My inexpensive hotel of course was full as I saw on the sign when I left.. I didn’t know what to do!!!
I asked some man to help me take my bags across the street.
He asked me where I wanted to go. I had to choose amongst a bar, a kabob place and a pizzeria. so I chose the pizzeria “LUNA PIZZA” 45 quai Richelieu Tramway Porte de Bourgogne ,Bordeaux. I explained my situation to a man there,a lady who works there and the owner. They all felt sorry for me that there was no place to stay due to Vinexpo and the La Fete de la Musique – an music festival in France.. The owner, Angela, made several telephone calls to hotels which were fully booked and even to the hotel I checked out of since the owner there is very friendly. A lady working at the pizzeria there told me that there was a slow overnight train to Paris but at the last minute I would have to pay the full price not the discount price. We waited for the guy who ditched me to call.
Meanwhile Angela, the owner, suggested I eat a pizza. I selected her special pizza and it was great! I tasted some Spanish wine I took with permission from Vin Expo.that I was planning to give to the man who left me. Then she found me a place to stay . We all sampled the Spanish wine which I left there. We three, Angela, Myriam who works, there and I, went out together after the restaurant closed and danced the night away to music playing from a small truck in the street and drank wine.That was how we celebrated La Fete de la Musique.( music festival). It was great!
Wednesday, Myriam from the pizzeria drove me to the train station to leave my baggage there. Everyone knows about how tight security is so they scan the luggage before they accept it for storage for the day. The machine was broken so I had to go to Vin Expo with my luggage.
I left most of the baggage with the baggage check at the main entrance and my PC in the press lounge. I visited some producers and had drinks in the press lounge. My train was at 7:47 so I took the shuttle to the station with others who had trains around the same time. The shuttle was supposed to arrive at 7:10 so I figured I had plenty of time. At 7;30 we were still on the shuttle bus with no signs of the train station in view.
The people who missed their trains would not get refunds for their tickets and would have to buy other tickets. Most of them were on business expense accounts that their companies paid for..At 7:35 I left the bus with some others but my luggage was in the bottom in the back of the luggage compartment. I got the bus driver to get my baggage and ran for the tram ( trolley car).. Some man let me use one of his rides on his ticket for one tram ride and carried some baggage to another next tram since we had to change. I I arrived at the train station at 7.47 the time my train was supposed to leave! I ran fast and mounted the platform to wait for the train and learned it was 20 mins. late. Thank goodness! Who knows when the bus arrived?
Vinexpo was a great success. Many attendees met others in the industry, many signed contracts and visitors learned about wine and spirits. The atmosphere was buzzing and the weather was warm and balmy. The event was well organized and even had applications for Blackberry and I Phones to help inform the attendees of events and places. Hosts and hostesses were very helpful and informative. Free shuttle service from downtown, airport and the train station was provided. Everything was put in place to foster business.
There were only two problems that they have with this professional event. There aren’t enough hotels in the city to accommodate all the visitors and so they raise the prices. It is hard to get a room. I was lucky to get an inexpensive room in the center.The other problem is the traffic jams.
Vinexpo was a great success. Visitors enjoyed the experience and made good business contacts. The press was treated very well both in the press lounge and by the staff.
People come to Vinexpo to see others and be seen. Anyone who is anyone in the wine business including journalists who write about these shows and wine go to Vinexpo.