We wish that everyone who loves wine, gets to walk the red carpet at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, at least once in their life. It is pretty amazing to glide to a stop on the glass tram then step out on to - what 500 m or so?- of floating pontoon/red carpet, and to arrive in the massive convention space. This was our third Vinexpo and it was still exciting to meet suppliers and try new vintages and look at new products.
The Vinexpo stats are pretty impressive.
- about 2350 exhibitors from 42 countries- a conspicuous absence of oz producers one would have to say.
- close to 50,000 visitors- down a little on 2013 but exhibitors commented on a higher "quality" of visitors and more deals done and more optimism generally compared to 2013. Foreigners made up 36% of visitors with China, USA, Spain and Italy leading the way.
- some new innovations including Digizone where digital/social marketing innovations were a focus, there was a Vinexpo mobile app and One2Wine- a digital meeting booking system.
- Many of the innovations were aimed at keeping up with Prowein which exhibitors praised for bigger size, more international focus, lower costs, more efficiency and better timing in vintage/buying cycle (March). Fair enough but hey Dusseldorf is not Bordeaux right!
- rosé: sales continue to climb, and there is an emerging differentiation between premium rosé (such as our Domaine de la Croix) and "vin de soif" (scoffing wines). There are now second labels of premium rosé and just about every European appellation seems to be making one, not just Provence and Bordeaux and certainly not just France.
- grower champagne: buyers seem to be turning away from the perpetually discounted brands and looking for authentic artisanal products. Grower champagne has hit the mainstream says Jancis Robinson and there seemed to be plenty of evidence of that. Our own Achille Princier has been exceptionally well recieved and the Mansard Family are now struggling with demand.
- "garagiste" or "vinarchiste " or "super" wines. Call them what you will but producers in Bordeaux, Loire, Languedoc, Rhone and even Burgundy are breaking the appellation rules and happily calling their wines Vin de France or IGP wines especially so for the export market. They are making modern, clean, varietal driven wines still authentic and expressive and usually under screw cap! Anarchy! Watch this space! We have some new lines to launch in Oz later this year.
- biodynamic/organic wines are ready for prime time. Currently 8% of French wines are certified as organic but it seems like the number under conversion is vast. Certainly in the price points/quality levels we were looking at, it felt like the majority of producers are organic or in conversion.The poster below from Producteurs Plaimont, the biggest producer in Madiran and St Mont is a sign of the times with an increasing proportion of their vineyards converting to organic.
- the "small" appellations of Bordeaux: Bourg, Canon-Fronsac, St Emilion satellites, Graves, Listrac-Médoc etc where there has been great strides made in quality of production in recent years.
- Bordeaux the city. Is it possible to be in love with a city? I hope so because we sure are! It just seems to be getting better at every visit. And it is about to go up a notch with the arrival of the super fast train from Paris and the International City of Wine (Wine Museum) both possibly in time for Vinexpo 2017. The new museum alone is expected to attract more than one million visitors per year.
- Sauternes- lots of talk about the resistance in the market to "sticky" wines but the increased attention on wines such as Jurançon with high acidity/dryer finish. We expect to see falling Sauternes prices esp outside of the top brands and more and more dry Sauternes which are wonderful Graves/White Bordeaux and well received in the market
- vintage 2013: a very difficult wet vintage in many parts of France. Some wines are OK where the wines were not "over-made" and meticulous vineyard methods and section practices were followed. One of our producers lost his entire vintage due to rot in the vineyard (organic producer). Many of our producers were happy to let us pass over the 2013's and go straight to the 2014 wines which are generously fabulous. This was worth the price of the trip alone.
- homogeneous Bordeaux: There are lots of excellent wines out there but there was a "sameness" to many of the Bordeaux we tasted (perhaps reflecting modern wine-making methods across the regions) so we have concentrated on some authentic small producers and wines with some distinct character or a good story. It was a case of finding some outstanding gems amongst the very good pack so (as before) we end up with well curated lists.
At DiscoverVin we firmly believe there is a growing market for good value Bordeaux and wines across southern France especially the south west appellations, Rhone and Provence. We work with mostly small independent producers that are working on renewed vineyards/wineries. Many are at the forefront of the movement towards organic and biodynamic production. All are making authentic, terroir driven delicious and good value wines. Our trip to Bordeaux affirmed the importance of the types of wines we are looking for.
And now a final word on Vinexpo, commercialisation and product placement....."Don't lose a drop of it" !