Wednesday, June 08, 2016

MENU goes East - Vinexpo Hong Kong

And then it was time to pack away the holiday clothes and get to work. Vinexpo started on Tuesday 24th May and ran for three days. We were there to find out what we could about the Chinese market. It is still pretty inscrutable. The Chinese people, especially the young, upwardly mobile, are interested but know very little about wine. The fashion for buying trophy wines has passed they tell us, no longer are the bottles of top international wines displayed on their mantle shelves, never to be drunk. They fear fake wines, preferring to buy from people they know. Importing is easy, selling is not. Did you know that China grows lots of grapes, but only 10% of them are wine grapes. And wine grapes are grown almost all over this vast country. They even have their own varietals
The entrance to the impressive Convention Centre
Much of the land surrounding the Convention Centre has been reclaimed and there is massive new building going on around it
Exhibitors and other attendees starting to arrive from the underground METRO. You walk miles and miles in these tunnels to get to the stations
The show opened with a traditional Lion dance. A resting lion
There was lots of drum and gong banging, whistles and shouts to accompany the Lion dance
Cutting the tape to open Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016: Vinexpo Chairman Xavier de Eizaguirre, Representatives of Mr Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise
A barrage of photographers; John had found a much better position!
Vinexpo is open. We were a little disconcerted by the fact that, although the opening, to which we had an official invitation was scheduled for 9am and we arrived at 8 to get settled into the media centre, all media were barred from entry until 9.30, while delegates were allowed in. We could see absolutely no sense in this decision and it stayed that way for the entire show. Which meant that we would have missed some of the earlier presentations, conferences and seminars. But we protested and Anne Cusson, Vinexpo Communications Director, let us in early. There was no explanation. This has never happened to us at VinExpo Bordeaux
Off to see the South African stands. We were woefully under represented, so little Government (National and Local) money is given to support our efforts to promote our wine in China (and other export markets) and only the brave and wealthy larger farms and organisations can afford to go. And the wine industry is the third largest contributor to the fiscus. Australia next door had at least six times the space. As did little Portugal and many other small countries
We loved Robinson and Sinclair's mural of Table Mountain, it certainly attracted attention
La Motte/Leopard’s Leap had their own stand and seemed to be doing very good business. Hein Koegelenberg was busy with negotiations right through the show at his seat in the corner
Guy Kedian on the WOSA Stand, representing Stellenbosch Vineyards
Labels especially for the Chinese market
Wines of South Africa ran a competition for distributors of South African wine. It was won by Northeast Wines & Spirits Ltd. Here at the presentation are, from left to right: Harriet Parker (Northeast Wines & Spirits), Dean Aslin (Northeast Wines & Spirits), Michaela Stander (Wines of South Africa), Betsy Haynes (Northeast Wines & Spirits)
Lynne chatting to writer Robert Joseph, whom we keep meeting at different VinExpos
The entrance to the Press Centre, our base for the duration
So nice to meet the usual friendly faces! Niël Groenewald of DGB, masquerading as Kenneth Lee

The impressive Argentine stands
Off to our first press conference. The award to the Asian Wine Personality of 2016 VinExpo
The Award went to sister and brother creative team Sin and Yuko Kibayashi who produce The Drops of God (神の雫 Kami no Shizuku) which is a Japanese Manga comic series about wine. They produce it under the pseudonym Tadashi Agi, with artwork by Shu Okimoto. All the wines that appear in the comic are authentic
Dian Joubert of Diemersfontein swapping notes with a Chilean friend
A quick taste and look at some Chilean wines from the Punti Ferrer estate. The owner, Antonio Punti, and his colleagues were staying at our hotel and had invited us to come and taste on their stand. The Sauvignon Blanc was tropical with buttery chardonnay notes and lightly wooded
The Punti Ferrer Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon was juicy, lightly wooded with soft tannins and warm alcohol
An impressive label for an impressive wine. Profundo from Valle Secreto, full of perfume of violets and roses, cooked plums, sweet and juicy, but needs time.  So interesting to taste the competition for the market. The wines are very different from ours in style
The concourse; you walk miles to get to seminars and conferences. The main wine exhibition areas were on two levels, one and three
Spirits were also represented and we stopped for a quick dram with Andrew Heald of Fisher's Gin and Graham Taylor of Glasgow Whisky
Off to another Press conference, where Penfolds announced that they will sell a wine in barrels, and hold it for the owners as it matures. This is aimed at the high spending Asian market. We found it quite amusing that none of this wine was offered for tasting. So you have to take it on their recommendation that the wine is worth buying. We cannot offer an opinion. But it might give some of our wine makers some inspiration
The closed bottle. It is called Magill Cellar 3 and is a limited edition made from Barossa Shiraz and Coonawarra Cabernet. Similar to but not the same as Penfolds iconic Grange
This is what you can buy for 198000 Australian Dollars, says Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago. It works out at 336 bottles, about $589 (± R6670) each
We liked the informality and simplicity of the Greek stand. No Euros to waste
Sigalas wines from Santorini which we tasted when we were there last year
Ken Moroi of Vranken Pommery, Japan showed us
Pommery on ice for the Asian market. Not sure this would go down well in Europe. Might for the millennials in South Africa though...
The Vranken Pommery Demoiselle (young lady) is very elegant
We tasted this lovely vintage Champagne Femme by Duval-LeRoy. Made by their head winemaker Sandrine Logette-Jardin, it is an elegant blend of 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir with notes of Jasmine, hazelnut and crisp deliciousness
Clément Gardillou, Brand Ambassador, Duval Leroy
Then a quick visit to some very familiar wines from Georges Deboeuf, ably and warmly presented by his grandson, Aurélion Duboeuf, son of Franck Duboeuf

We have in our time, drunk several of these bottles and loved them. The Prestige Pouilly Fuissé, a white Burgundy, was just as expected, a lightly wooded crisp Chardonnay showing the minerality of the terroir and extremely enjoyable
A quick glimpse at a pretty good wine from Pauillac, but the stand was so busy that we did not manage to get a taste
Lynne chatting to charming Henri Bourgeois whose tasting room in Sancerre we last visited in 2002. The wines are superb, a style of Sauvignon Blanc we love
Their elegant and restrained Pouilly Fume has lovely herbal notes and great depth
We introduced Brad Gold CWM to Arnaud Bourgeois and to their wines
Niël Groenewald having fun on the Brampton stand, happy at being able to relax at the end of the show
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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