|Days 2 and 3: MP Asia, the Organisers of Wine for Asia have put together a lunch for some of their partners to thank them and discuss their plans for 2009. I gather that the current ogranisers jumped into the picture for the 2008 show fairly late and hope now to have enough lead time to make a grand success of the 2009 show which is expected to be far bigger.|
Vikram Achanta, reports from Singapore for Sommelier India.
At lunch I exchange notes with Tommy Lam, the President of the Sommelier Association of Singapore. Apparently it’s the turn of an Asian this year to head up the World Sommelier Association, so things look bright this year for bringing Sommeliers in Asia closer together. Christian Dworam who looks after Wines from Austria is also there. Christian says that India is still some way away on Austria’s radar, but he’s keen on spreading the word about an Austrian wine summit to be held in 2009. Also at my table are a trio of photo clicking Argentinians, a mix of wine makers and representatives from economic Ministries.
Luigi Bazzani, the owner and wine maker from Warrenmang Vineyards in Victoria is across from us, notices that I’m looking thirsty and heads over with a glass of his Cabernet Shiraz. He’s keen on entering India also. He runs two restaurants in addition to his vineyards and thus claims more intimate knowledge about wine and food pairing. Well, I am grateful for his neighbourly gesture and reciprocate with a few of our Wine Bags.
One of the more interesting stalls at WFA is the enticingly named Marilyn wines from Napa Valley – www.marilynwines.com. Their Marilyn Merlot is a homage to Marilyn Monroe as the vintage is released each year on June 1st, her birthday. Hate Merlot, but love Marilyn? They also have a Marilyn Cabernet! Added attraction, the labels have photos of MM. Now that’s a wine label I’d like to keep!
The Magma Bistro stall is a big hit, as they have ovens turning out fresh pizza – accompanied with a glass of German white, this is the must visit stall of the Expo, as is the Amici stall, where select canapés are served up with a glass of wine through the day.
Nancy Gontier is from the Vaucluse, the region Peter Mayles made famous in “A Year in Provence” and its sequels. I met her at a networking exhibition for French wine producers being held at Raffles Hotel. Sopexa Singapore had organised the same with Gregoire. Nancy hates Paris and she can’t wait she says to get back to her vineyard in the Vaucluse. As she explains, a winemaker needs to be close to the soil and there’s no place better than the Vaucluse and her Domaine de la Camarette vineyards!
There are a host of other producers including several from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, who are also represented by Sud de France, their marketing arm. You have to admire the French. Not only do they have Sopexa as an apex governmental organisation to relentlessly promote French agricultural produce, but individual wine regions also have their own marketing arms!
Heard of Wines from Brazil? I hadn’t, and had the pleasure of interacting with Gopi, Trevor and Andy from Nathan and Peridot, who represent a host of Brazilian wine producers and the State marketing arm, Wines from Brazil in South East Asia. As Gopi explained, they’re a bit reluctant to enter India at the moment. He felt that Indians were looking for cheap wine and Brazil is consciously taking the high road as far as wine quality goes. I did my best to reassure him. Hopefully, we’ll see some of their excellent wines in India soon. The Sauvignon Blanc I tasted was excellent.
Exhibitors are allowed to sell wine after 12 pm on Day 3 and signs quickly go up across the fair, most wines ranging between 30 and 50 Singapore dollars and representing a great bargain, especially as import duties in Singapore are high. Day 3 also allows consumers in, after paying an entry fee. At the end of the day, you witness swarms of people heading back with cases of wine.
For wine lovers in Singapore, the fair must be a high point for the ability to taste excellent wines from around the world, interact with the producers and purchase some fine wine at special prices.
Looking forward for a bigger and better WFA 2009 with greater Indian participation!
Tulleeho is a marketing consultancy and services firm for the beverage industry in India, which also helps companies who want to enter the Indian beverage industry.