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Top 10 reasons to visit Vinexpo

Over 50,000 thirsty visitors and 2,400 exhibitors from 45 countries are expected to descend upon Bordeaux this month to attend one of the world’s most important wine and spirits trade fairs; Vinexpo 2013.

Taking place for the 17th year from 16-20 June at the Parc des Expositions in Bordeaux, this year’s fair, a vibrant business hub for winery owners, merchants, importers and writers, is expected to attract more international visitors than ever before.

There will be 28 national pavilions this year, with Bulgaria, Mexico, Romania, Tunisia and Uruguay all keen to pin their flag on the world wine map, while more established wine countries like Spain, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Portugal and Italy will all boast national pavilions.

France meanwhile, will be well represented with dedicated pavilions for key regions like Bordeaux, Alsace, the Languedoc, the Loire, Burgundy and Provence.

“With newcomers such as China and Mexico exhibiting, and growing visitor interest from buyers from countries like Nigeria and India, Vinexpo is a more international marketplace than ever before”, says the fair’s chief executive, Robert Beynat.

While France dominates the exhibitors list through the likes of Champagne Lanson, Bernard Magrez Vignobles, Gerard Bértrand and Castel Frères, this year’s fair has a decidedly international twist, with 40% of those taking a stand hailing from outside of France.

Read on for our top 10 reasons to visit Vinexpo this year.

10: Chilean icons

Chilean top dog Viña Errázuriz will be hosting a trio of tastings of its icon wines at the fair (Hall 1, stand BC24), where winemaker Francisco Baettig and company president Eduardo Chadwick will be offering exclusive tastings at the Errázuriz stand.

Monday 17 June, 11am-12pm – A vertical tasting of six select vintage of Chilean icon Seña, including a tasting of the yet-to-be-released 2011 vintage. Spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis to the first 20 guests.

Tuesday 18 July 11am-12pm – A tasting of Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve spanning four decades hosted by Francisco Baettig. Tickets will be allocated on a first come first served basis to the first 20 guests.

Wednesday 19 June 11am-12pm – A tutored tasting by Errazuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig of the secret sites of the Aconcagua Valley.

9: Loire Sauvignon

Sauvignon Blanc nuts must not miss the Loire Sauvignon masterclass, hosted by Dr Jamie Goode, on Tuesday 18 June from 12.30-1.15pm in Tasting Lab 3, where there will be a free pour tasting area for tasters to work through the wines at their own speed.

Goode’s masterclass will include 34 gold medal winning wines and two trophy winners from the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon, which took place in the Loire at the iconic Château de Blois for the first time in April.

“I was really impressed by the performance of the Loire wines in the competition. It sets the benchmark for Sauvignon, particularly so now that quality has improved across the board. And it’s not just the best known regions that are excelling; Touraine Sauvignon is really impressive at the moment,” says Goode, who judged at the competition. Entry to the masterclass is free.

8: Wine Intelligence

Vinexpo will reveal its new world study on the future of wine and spirits distribution conducted in collaboration with Wine Intelligence at a conference on Tuesday 18 June at 2:30pm in Amphitheatre B in the Convention Centre.

Presented by Richard Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence, the talk will highlight the changes in how wines are distributed in five of the world’s biggest wine markets: China, France, Germany, the UK and the US, and will identify five major innovations in wine retailing already emerging.

During the conference, on- and off-trade distributors will report on their most pioneering and effective initiatives thus far.

The report puts the findings into the context of 18 consumer countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific, which together account for 75% of world wine consumption and 4.6m on- and off trade outlets. Tickets for the seminar can be purchased from the Vinexpo website.

7: The Swizzle Masters

The Wenneker Swizzle Masters cocktail competition will be held at Vinexpo for the first time this year, and is inviting visitors to join in the fun. Now in its third year, the 10-round competition – organised by our sister publication The Spirits Business – pits contenders from around the world against the resident Swizzle Master; last year’s winner Kirill Maslenikov.

All recipes are submitted digitally, with a different theme each round, and mixed by an impartial bartender to test their simplicity. Meanwhile, a panel of expert judges will mark each drink on its appearance, taste and suitability to the round’s given theme.

The round at Vinexpo features a shortlist of 10 cocktails based on the “Romantic Rum” theme, all of which will be mixed by Wenneker ambassador Ron de Preter. The winning cocktail will go through to the semi-final held in November, with the overall winner announced following a grand final in London in December.

Join Wenneker and The Spirits Business at Tasting Lab 2 on 19 June between 12.30-2pm to gain a rare insight into the mixology styles and cocktail preferences of different countries. For more information visit:

6: Le Club du Lac

The Club du Lac will once again serve as a scenic venue for meetings during the fair and will be populated by some of the biggest names in the business, including Chile’s Concha y Toro and Bordeaux’s Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owners of first growth Château Mouton-Rothschild, which is using the fair to launch a new art gallery set to open at the château this summer to permanently house the travelling exhibition “Mouton Rothschild: Paintings for the Labels”.

The new display space, separate to Mouton’s Museum of Art in Wine, will house the original artworks commissioned for the estate’s labels over the past 70 years by the likes of Picasso, Chagal, Warhol, Dalí and more recently Jeff Koons, Lucien Freud and Anish Kapoor, the originals of which have never before been seen by the public.

Holding up the Champagne end at the Club du Lac will be Lanson, Deutz and Thienot, from whom attendees can get their fizz fix.

5: World Cup wines

The Wines from Brazil stand (Hall 1, 25) is poised to go footie mad, with keepie uppie competitions and the chance to try the official wines of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – Faces – made by Brazilian winery Lidio Carraro.

Having clinched the deal, the winery, based in the Serra Gaúcha region in southern Brazil, will double production and significantly expand global distribution.

Lidio Carraro currenly makes a range of still and sparkling wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Tannat, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Sparkling wines will be well represented on the stand, including a new fizz made from grape of the moment, Moscato. In addition, nine producers seeking international representation will be showing their wares.

4: Spirits

While wine plays a starring role at the fair, stands will be also be generously populated with spirits from all over the world, taking in well-known categories like Cognac, vodka, rum, whisky, gin, Armagnac and Tequila, along with up-and-coming players like arak, mescal, saké, cachaça and baijiu.

A first this year is the Pro Mexico pavilion, which will present an array of Tequila brands in the middle of Hall 2. The Sichuan pavilion meanwhile, will enable visitors to learn more about Chinese spirits such as the weat and sorghum-based maotai, which is said to have an aroma akin to soy sauce.

Among the spirits producers taking stands at the show this year are Darroze Armanac (run by Michelin-starred French chef Hélène Darroze’s family), Camus Cognac from Ile de Ré, Jim Beam Bourbon, Glenfarclas whisky, and No. 3 Dry Gin, owned by fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.

3: Tastings by Vinexpo

This year, 4,500 square metres is being set aside for “Tastings by Vinexpo” and its varied programme of events, including 20 round table discussions on the latest trends and issues facing the wine and spirits sector.

Back by popular demand, more than 60 talks and tastings will take place over the course of the five-day fair in Halls 1, 2 and 3 of the Bordeaux-Lac exhibition centre and the Convention Centre.

Among the highlights are a Sweet wines tasting hosted by Paolo Basso, the World’s Best Sommelier 2013 (Sunday 16, Tasting Lab 1, Hall 2), Quintessential Chardonnays: Henriot, Bouchard and William Fèvre (Monday 17 June, Tasting Lab 1, Hall 2), and The Burgundy grands crus masterclass hosted by Tim Atkin MW (Tuesday 18 June, Tasting Lab 1, Hall 2), The Spirits Business Swizzle Masters cocktail competition (Wednesday 19 June, Tasting Lab 2, Hall 2).

2: New releases

Les Dauphins – Hall 1, stand HD/BD 140

The Rhône’s largest producer, Cellier des Dauphins, will introduce its Les Dauphins brand to the international wine trade at the fair. Already a hit in the UK, where it launched in 2011, and in Germany, where it made its debut last year, Les Dauphins is hoping to use the launchpad of the fair to attract buyers from other key export markets. With 13 wineries and 18,000 hectares of vines, Cellier des Dauphins makes 30% of all AOC Côtes du Rhône wines. Boasting a striking red and blue carnival-eqsue retro label, Les Dauphins is poised to take advantage of the growing popularity of Rhône wines worldwide.

Bulle de Neige – Hall 1, stand AB 180

Canadian ice cider brand Neige, founded by François Pouliot, will be pouring its sweet elixirs at the fair. Making its European debut will be Bulle de Neige (snowball), a demi-sec sparkling ice cider produced in the méthode traditionnelle. Made from Quèbec-gown McIntosh apples, the sparkler is dosed with the company’s flagship ice cider. Treating the apples in a similar way a winemaker does grapes, the cider has an abv of around 11%, as the natural sugars in the apples are concentrated by the freezing Quèbec winters. A labour of love, seven kilos of handpicked apples are required to make just one litre of Neige. Pouliot will be on the Boisset La Famille des Grand Vins Stand to talk attendees through his ethereal nectar.

Luc Belaire Rosé – Hall 1, stand AB198

From the makers of Jay-Z’s favourite fizz, Armand de Brignac, comes an exciting new project that looks set to capitalise on two of the biggest wine trends of the moment: sparkling wine and rosé. Head to Hall 1 for a sip of sparkling rosé Luc Belaire from… Provence. A blend of 90% Syrah, 5% Grenache and 5% Cinsault, the sparkler, made in the charmat method, boasts a distinctive black bottle and fuchsia pink label, and is already a hit with US rapper Rick Ross. The brainchild of Brett Berish, CEO of Sovereign Brands, Belaire is imported into the UK by Cellar Trends and is looking to fill the gap between super premium rosé Champagne and entry level Prosecco and cava.

1: Fête de la Fleur

And finally… the annual knees up to celebrate the flowering of the vines in Bordeaux will be held at Château Lagrange in St Julien this year on Thursday 20 June where over 1,500 guests expected at the gala dinner held on the grounds of the estate, owned by the Japanese Suntory Group, which boasts a large, swan-filled lake.

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