In an exclusive interview with the drinks business, Thierry Desseauve explains why he and Michel Bettane chose London for their Wine Experience, which is returning to the capital’s Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea this year.
Thierry Desseauve believes London was an obvious choice for his and Michel Bettane’s Wine Experience
As previously reported by the drinks business, the wine show from two of France’s most famous critics will be held on 25-26 October this year and promises to comprise 80 top wineries from France and Italy.
Why did you feel that London needed another wine show?
When it comes to fine wines, London speaks for itself as a trade platform. It’s also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world with countless British, Americans, Russians, Chinese and French wine lovers. Further to the success of our major event – Le Grand Tasting – in Paris and other wine events in Asia, we were seeking for another main city in Europe where we could present an exciting panel of international winemakers: indeed, London was quite an obvious choice.
What does the Wine Experience do that other shows don’t?
First and foremost, Wine Experience is a wine festival such as you have for music or cinema. All attending winegrowers have been selected by Michel and me for the quality of their wines. We’re sampling with our tasters’ team something like 50,000 wines from all over the world every year and our ambition is to present them to the public. Then we’re always conducting top master classes about a producer or winemaker who deserves a better attention from the public as we did last year with Giuseppe Mascarello, a real stylist of Barolo, a premiere tasting of Comtes de Champagne vintages from Taittinger or The Genius of Gevrey Chambertin through iconic winemakers from the region are also other famous themed encounters. Last but not least, we’re firm believers that the great wines deserve a jewel case as we did in Paris for the past eight years: that’s why we chose the Saatchi Gallery as a venue.
Did last year exceed your expectations?
This was the first edition and our goal was to set a quality standard in terms of exhibitors, visitors, overall set up and organisation; the feedback we received makes us believe we pretty much achieved our expectations. This said, there’s always room for improvements and one of our concerns is to have trade people understanding that Wine Experience is meant for them; whatever their mission, ambition or business.
What does this year offer the visitor that’s different?
In 2012, the exhibitors were primarily French and Italian; we hope to expand this panel to other talented worldwide producers in 2013 though it will obviously take a little time before we get all major countries on board. We’re also working out the masterclass programme and something quite unique about wine innovation that is far from obnoxious buzzwords. We do believe this trend is getting more and more important.
How important is London now for the Wine Experience?
London is one of the four cities we’re running Wine Experience at and we want it to be the most international in terms of panel and the most demanding for the quality of wines. Our goal is Wine Experience London becomes a real showcase of excellence and innovation for premium and fine wines.
What other major cities will be seeing The Wine Experience this year and how do they differ?
Our first event in Paris – which is named “Le Grand Tasting” – was launched eight years ago. Each year in early December, we’re hosting 350 producers selected by us, and running 60 master classes and workshops while 15,000 visitors (of whom 25% are from the trade) are coming in two days! Abroad, we started five years ago joining the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair: our exhibitors are gathered in a specific Wine Experience Bettane+Desseauve area within the French pavilion. Now Bettane+Desseauve stands for a quality label in a competitive market where Asian buyers are sometimes missing landmarks on French wines.
As for Shanghai (and London), we’re fortunate enough to receive a strong local back up from Ubifrance which is The French Trade Commission supporting the export activities of the producers. The first edition in Shanghai took place in March 2013 and has been an overwhelming success thanks to Chinese social media: as a matter of fact, we have over half a million followers checking our tasting notes and information on Weibo. And Shanghai is becoming increasingly important in the wine business with many events, wine lovers and trade companies.
Friday 25 October:12.00pm-9.00pm (strictly reserved to the trade until 5.00pm)
Saturday 26 October:12.00pm-6.00pm
Click here for more information on the London Wine Experience.