Montesquieu Winery Reflects on VinExpo 2011: All Eyes on Asia, Not Losing Sight of US
August 2, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
VinExpo, the largest trade show of wine and spirits in the world, is always exciting to attend. Held every other year in Bordeaux, it is a bustling international scene packed with a dizzying array of tastings, seminars, exhibitions and more. With the most influential members of the wine industry attending plus the sheer scale of the event, it is no surprise that a huge amount of networking and deal making takes place, both on-site in the vast exhibition center and off-site at the many premiere dinners and events. It is a powerful bellwether event, revealing key trends and emerging markets in the wine world.
The organizers of VinExpo have encouraged new and emerging markets with a global perspective, reflected in the 47 countries represented among the 2,400 exhibitors. The attendance was over 48,000 which was an increase of 3 % over 2009 which kept the aisles humming, and the mood was decidedly optimistic all around.
The buzz this year was about the Asian buyers, which represented 1 out of every 3 of foreign visitors. Specifically the attendance from China doubled compared to 2009. Much has been covered about this market, which will surely continue to grow. A study conducted by VinExpo and International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) found that China is the seventh-largest wine consumer in terms of volume. The study predicts further growth of 20% by 2014.
The realization of this powerful trend was evident all around—signs in Chinese that read “We speak Chinese”, translators on hand to assist, and various seminars designed for the Chinese market including a food and wine pairing session hosted by the Sauternes and Barsac region presenting spicy Szechuan (si chuan) flavored dishes with a wide range of their wines. The gala dinner grand finale Fête de la Fleur at Château Lascombes in Margaux featured quite the homage to China—life-sized Chinese terra cotta soldiers lined the entrances, the entire menu of the lavish dinner by 3 star Michelin chef Eric Frichon (Hotel le Bristol in Paris) was printed in Chinese, and one of the main highlights of the meal (served with Château Lascombes 2005 from Imperial bottles) was saddle of lamb with Asian-influenced nori pepper crust, accompanied by herb gnocchi and pureed kohlrabi.
The Asian market did not appear overnight—VinExpo has been present in the Asian-Pacific zone with exhibitions held in Hong Kong in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and in Tokyo in 2000 and 2002. The next is to be held in Hong Kong May 29-31, 2012 with many expanded programs and seminars for the burgeoning market. The first Vin Expo Asia was in Hong Kong in 1998.
Robert Beynat, CEO of VinExpo, is quick to make sure the US market is not forgotten. In a recent interview he said, “If you have $10 to invest, put $8 in the U.S. and $2 in China, not the reverse. The U.S. drinks about 12 liters per head, the U.K. 27 liters and China only one liter. I expect the U.S. to remain the number-one wine market in the world for the next decade or so.” In an interview with Decanter Magazine in June of this year Beynat made it clear it was time for VinExpo to return to the United States saying, “It’s the right time to get back to America, and has been for a long time.” Beynat said he will make an announcement this November. The last VinExpo in the US was in Chicago in 2004.
Even though the per capita consumption in China is only 1 liter per person, the wine culture in China is young and based on many indicators the market will surely continue to grow. Beynat went on to say, “The Chinese will follow America. They will produce more, they’ll drink better, they’ll continue to build brands, and they will import more. They’re starting with the most expensive and prestigious wines, but eventually they’ll import all price points.”
We may be in a different phase compared to China regarding wine culture, but it seems we share the spotlight as the two key markets to watch in the next decade. According to the most recent VinExpo/IWSR study, between 2009 and 2013 half the growth in worldwide wine consumption is expected to be located in just 2 countries: the US and China.
We are excited looking forward, as not only are wine lovers in the US enjoying more wine, they are enjoying better wine. We are in a fortunate position with more than 20 years of experience importing, retailing and producing some of the world’s very best wines. As wine culture continues to evolve in the US, we will continue to be at the forefront providing distinctive, delicious Montesquieu wines directly to wine lovers all over the US. Cheers from Montesquieu Winery!
We attended VinExpo 2011 in Bordeaux, meeting old friends and making new ones. As a result we have some very exciting projects in process we will be posting about in the future. We will also keep you informed regarding the expected announcement of VinExpo in the US in 2012.