It was with both anticipation and excitement that I arrived at Vin Expo on Sunday afternoon, June 16. I took the train from Paris in the morning and arrived on a beautiful warm sunny day to go to Vin Expo. The event is held every two years in Bordeaux, France. Both as a journalist and as a wine consultant for producers and buyers, this show was going to prove interesting and very different from two years ago.
There were 48,858 visitors from 148 countries up 1.15% from 2011. Although the number of French visitors 30,396 `was approximately the same as in 2011, the number of foreign visitors increased 3% setting a new record at 18,462 – a 37.8% share of total visitors, according to the Press Release from Vin Expo 2013. Asia was the largest in terms of foreign visitors, primarily China and Japan followed by the USA — the world’s largest wine consuming nation in volume and value. Free shuttle bus service from hotels to the expo was provided. Since the heavy morning traffic would have delayed my arrival from downtown, I decided to take the tramway to the end of the line and then caught a free shuttle to the expo.
Since admission to the expo is restricted to-the-trade, exhibitors were eager to display, meet and greet the plethora of wholesale distributors, importers, restaurateurs, hypermarket/supermarket buyers, sommeliers , and nightclub/bar owners.
There were exhibitors of wine from many countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain; Uruguay and others. A variety of distilled spirits were also exhibited ;Producers cheerfully poured wine affording attendees the opportunity to learn about and taste wines from around the world Since English is the universal language of international commerce it was commonly spoken by exhibitors. One of the important goals of producers was to enter the markets in China, USA and other countries and/or increase their presence in foreign markets.
I made several contacts in the press lounge. Drinking champagne at the bar, I met Robert Hutton a journalist based in Washington, DC who currently works as a consultant and writer. We arranged for a meeting the next day and I took him to meet a producer from Uruguay whose wine he liked and some producers of organic wines. He enjoyed tasting all of them and speaking with the producers. Rick Garced who writes for a publication Dining Out based in Florida enjoyed the hospitality of the press lounge and was looking for new beverages to feature in his magazine.
Thanks to Anne Cusson from the Vin Expo Press Department for providing us with delicious beverages, good Macs and comfortable ambiance.
As I was tasting some wine, I ran into Andrew Oliver from a company called The Drinks Business who told me about his weekly column for USA on his online drinks publication : www. the drinksbusinesss.com.
The weather turned cool and rainy for the rest of Vin Expo.
Monday night in the rain I went to the armagnac cocktail reception called Soirée Armagnac Come to Your Senses ,hosted by Bureau Interprofessional de l’Armagnac,where armagnac and armagnac cocktails were served. There were many varieties such as blends and millésimes, which means specific years. Eric Sandra stopped me and told me that he enjoyed reading about the armagnac soirée in 2011. This year enjoyed feasting on many French specialities and freshly sliced smoked salmon. The ambiance was great. We took photos of armagnac producers and the staff. The chef put his hat on me making me an honorary chef!
Afterwards I tried to return to my hotel. First I walked the wrong way to the bus stop and got drenched in the rain. I returned to the hotel lobby and was told there was a bus in about 20 minutes. I waited and waited because a taxi was about 50 Euros. After about 45 minutes, a bus (the last bus) arrived. We ran across the street from the hotel’s entrance to the bus stop and I along with others who had been waiting for an hour got on the bus and later took a tram for the last leg to their rooms.
Tuesday the rain continued. After a day at Vin Expo I went to another soirée hosted by the Bergerac producers, called . It was held at a famous restaurant called Café Tupina. Anne-Catherine Vigouroux whose company, Wine 4 Trade organizes professional wine tasting salons, www.wine4trade.fr. She greeted me and introduced me to others. The food was good, people were friendly and we given Bergerac t-shirts as souvenirs.
Wednesday I had the delightful experience of being invited to a soiréé at Château Pape Clément. It is a winery that produces Grand Cru Classé de Graves — very good and very expensive wines. We arrived and received chips to gamble. First wine was poured in black glasses and we had to guess if it was red, white or rosé. I lost some of my chips but Feng, who works with a Bordeaux producer, said she had many so she would help me play. I promptly lost. Then we had to smell some spices and guess what they were. People were helping others and even the lady at the table taking the chips gave clues. I didn’t have good luck, but Feng did fine.
Afterwards there was entertainment. First, we listened to a violinist. Then an auctioneer asked for bids on some wine. Bidder used their chips. Finally a man bid a million Euros for some wine! The auctioneer accepted his bid but told him he probably didn’t have the money but all his “friends” would contribute. They auctioneer asked us for all our money saying it had no value elsewhere. It was only chips. Then a magician did card tricks at our table. Finally, dinner was served featuring the following wines:
Chateau Pérenne Blanc 2010
Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
Château Les Grands Chênes Rouge 2007
Médoc- Cru Bourgeois Supérior
Château Pape Clément 2007 Grand Cru Classé de Graves
Château Haut-Peyraguey 2010 – Sauternes- 1 èr Grand Cru Classé de 1855
The dinner was delicious.
Starter or Appetizer
Oyster Tartare ( chopped raw oysters) , diced Foie Gras and Jabugo Ham Slices
Duck with smoked Bacon, Yellow Carrot Mousseline with Lemon and
sautéed s ummer Vegetables
Brebi des Pyrénées et Confiture de Cérises Noires
Sheep’s Cheese and Black Cherry Jam
Creamy chocolate cake, Coffee scum, Lemon ice cream
Coffee, Tea, Sweets
After dinner a mind reader read people’s minds. We could not believe how he could guess where people had been on vacation and other subjects. It was just incredible!
All of us there, several hundred people, from several countries enjoyed a great evening before the last day of Vin Expo.
Remembering how I missed the train two years ago ( but luckily the train was late) when I left an hour and a half before the train, taking the free shuttle to the train station, I left two hours earlier; I arrived too early so I enjoyed the SNCF Grande Voyager free lounge at the train station. Entrance is free for those who have the fidelity card which is free. They have places to read, write and free newspapers.
This year, Vin Expo was special for me because of the producers, guests, journalists and great soirées.