In 1998 Vinexpo Hong Kong was the first B2B exhibition organised in Asia. Twenty years later this show, which took place from 29 to 31 May 2018 has become the must-attend event and a strategic platform for importers, buyers and sommeliers from the Asia-Pacific wine trade.
At Vinexpo Asia this year, 12 Cru Classé Graves châteaux offered the 2014 vintage of their wines for a tasting. Later that evening at a Cocktail Reception, magnums of their red and white wines from back vintages were poured.
Bordeaux producers of the 12 châteaux pictured on the left
Here are a few photos with quotes from leading professionals in the wine and spirits industry, that Sommelier India contributing writer, Brinda Bourhis, met. Not surprisingly, their focus was China.
With an expected growth in China of 25% in volume by 2020, Australia has emerged as one of the sector’s key players. Vinexpo hosted Australia as Country of Honour at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 in partnership with Wine Australia.
From Stuart Barclay, General Manager of Wine of Australia
“Our first edition at Vinexpo Asia was in 2012 when we had 15 wineries on a booth space of 90 square metres. This year we are 151 wineries on 815 sq metres… so that clearly shows you that Asia is a big market for Australian wines and by participating in a show like this, we are able to connect with buyers from all across the continent under one roof. Next year Australia will have the advantage of zero tax rates on their wines exported to China so we are expecting further growth until the next edition of the fair in 2020”
Olga Bussinello, Director of Valpolicella Consorzio: “This is just the 3rd edition for the Consorzio and we have 11 wineries present. I believe we need to continue exhibiting at Vinexpo Asia and to build up the brand Valpolicella here in Asia. We are hosting a masterclass at the fair and through educational sessions, this will help educate the trade on our appellation. The wineries of the Consorzio are also seeking to develop sales in third-tier cities of China beyond Beijing and Shanghai.”
Christian Ciamos, Sales Director of Domaines Albert Bichot:
“Albert Bichot was an exhibitor right from the first edition of Vinexpo Asia 20 years ago. Back then the Chinese visitors were asking curious questions such as, ‘If you don’t swallow the wine when tasting doesn’t that mean the wine is bad?’ They very soon got the technique of wine tasting. Also, they asked at that time what fruit the wine was made of…they had no notion of what the grapes were used for! We have come a long way as today the Chinese understand the terroir of Burgundy at its ‘climats’, and are not only visiting us at Vinexpo but also coming to see us in France and are eager to learn more and more. For the years to come, we are looking to focus more on food and wine matching with the wines of Burgundy. Our wines are excellent with Indian cuisine, too, and our Chablis is working well in India, a market that we really do believe in.”
California Wines, Christopher Beers – Asia Director: This year’s edition we have a much larger number of wineries from California, with 50 in total. This growth is clearly due to actual growth in our exports to China, for example in 2016 we witnessed 48% increase. Our wines are actually mainly consumed domestically in the US but our wineries still need to be present at leading fairs like Vinexpo Asia for brand image and sustain sales. Education is key here in Greater China, and ambassadors like Debra Meiburg MW who is currently hosting a masterclass on Sonoma is crucial for our development. After years of the Chinese only drinking French wines, California is thrilled that they are getting more and more into California wines. So we will be back in 2020 and there is still room for further growth and building awareness.”
Stephane Zanella, Managing Director of Vignerons Catalans:
“So far we are pleased with the fair. We have an office based in China so Vinexpo is the perfect opportunity to meet our importers and present new wines. Vignerons Catalans is a group of 1,500 producers and we make a wide range of wines from the Roussillon area. In fact, most of the wines we sell to China are customized according to the client’s needs. So, we put together a tasting and our clients decide on the style or blend best suited for their market. We actually finalized an order at the fair. This year we have also seen an increase in interest for our Vins Doux Naturel (Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury) even if produced in smaller volumes we have had Chinese visitors wanting to taste and better understand these wines.”