China soared to prominence this year at the world’s leading wine & spirits exhibition VINEXPO 2015 in Bordeaux, accounting for the largest contingent of foreign trade professionals. Chinese visitor numbers increased by 14% to nearly 4,000 since the last biennial trade show in 2013, according to numbers calculated following the June 14-18 fair.
China Soars to Prominence in Global Wine Market with Largest Foreign Contingent at Vinexpo 2015
Chinese outnumbered the United States, in second place among 48,500 professionals arriving from 151 countries, despite a 14.5% increase in the number of buyers – followed by Spain and Italy.
“Exhibitor confidence was boosted by the long-awaited recovery of the Chinese market after two years of decline,” said the fair’s CEO Guillaume Deglise. China’s position as number one source of visitors outside France “brought renewed confidence” in the global wine and spirits market.
China’s huge presence this year underlined its key importance in the market, especially for red wine. The world’s fifth largest wine consumer was crowned top consumer of red wine last year having drunk 1.865 billion bottles.
Hong Kong film star, Carina Lau, also brought a touch of Chinese glamour to Vinexpo this year by launching her own online wine and champagne brand which consists of six top-end Bordeaux wines and four other wines from the region, as well as two Moutard champagnes and a sparkling wine. 280,000 bottles of her top-end Bordeaux wines will be offered in a pre-sale launch, and her wines are available for purchase on the Alibaba website.
A VINEXPO / IWSR survey anticipates that between 2014 and 2018, Chinese wine consumption will grow by a further 24.8%, twice as fast as that of the US.The survey finds that the fundamentals for China’s wine consumption growth remain strong in the long term. There is a rapidly expanding middle class and these new consumers will spur growth. The findings also suggest that the Chinese find wine to be a healthier drink than the staple Baiju, which also offers the kind of sophistication some Chinese consumers are craving.
RECORD NUMBER OF EXHIBITORS
Opened for the first time by France’s Head of State, French President, Francois Hollande, the 18th Vinexpo trade exhibition welcomed 2,350 exhibitors representing 42 producing countries, and was a resounding success.
“With the final figures announced, two strong trends are clear – one is the quality of visitors, even more professional and international than at previous editions, and secondly that Vinexpo is without doubt the world’s foremost meeting place for professionals from the wine and spirits sectors,” said Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise. “Vinexpo is the world’s leading international wine and spirits fair to meet buyers, sign contracts, learn about important trends and extend commercial networks,” Deglise adds.
TURNING POINT FOR THE SHOW
Under the theme ‘Taste the Unexpected’, the completely revamped 5-day event introduced a cocktail of innovations and unexpected discoveries described by Mr Deglise as a “turning point” in the 34 year history of the fair.
A gastronomic alley, featuring a great number of restaurants offering diverse cuisines from all around the globe, food and wine pairings, and an impressive programme of 96 talks and tasting as well as networking events in the evening were part of the new format Vinexpo.
Business meetings were also reinforced by the launch of One2Wine, a new matchmaking service for exhibitors and buyers, which resulted in more than 1,000 meetings, and which was particularly appreciated by Chinese and American buyers.
“We were most impressed by the high quality of our meetings and tastings with trade & media from every key global market,” said Peter Gago, a renowned winemaker from Penfolds Winery (Australia).
“Vinexpo 2015 will be remembered as an excellent vintage. The quality of the buyers we met opened up 20 new markets for us across the world,” said Gérard Bertrand, president of Gérard Bertrand wines.
“Vinexpo presents the best the world has to offer and we particularly appreciated the quality of the food and wine pairings offered in the restaurants. This is important because, when you taste a good wine, the food needs to live up to it,” said Lamberto Frescobaldi, CEO of Marchesi di Frescobaldi (Italy).
The sommelier profession was also in the spotlight at the 2015 edition, with the finals of the Best Young Sommelier in France competition, the General Assembly of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), a tasting led by Paz Levinson, recent winner of Best Sommelier of the Americas, and a series of food and wine pairing workshops.
Vinexpo also announced it is contending to organise the Best Sommelier in the World award, in partnership with L’Association française de sommellerie, in 2019.
“Sommelier training is both demanding and multi-faceted. As well as wines, we need to know about gastronomy and the art of serving a demanding clientele,” said Paolo Basso, winner of the Best Sommelier of the World competition in 2013.
DIGIZONE AND MORE…
A #DigiZone was another flagship innovation, welcoming bloggers and web influencers who exchanged information on new technologies, communication, media, and unusual grape varieties. The VINEXPO app was also a great success, it was downloaded 5,000 times.
Not least, the Spiritual bar, organised by The Spirits Business with mixologists from the USBG and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, enhanced the social atmosphere with a new spirits-cocktail bar concept that was successfully introduced last year in Hong Kong, with master classes in mixology and ‘flair bartending’.
VINEXPO returns to Asia next year with VINEXPO Hong Kong from May 24-26, 2016, and VINEXPO Tokyo from November 15-16, 2016