Sales hopes ride high on Chinese demand at Bordeaux wine fair
By Marcel Michelson BORDEAUX, France, June 20 (Reuters Life!) - The 30th international wine and spirits fair in Bordeaux opened this week with participants hoping for much better order books than the relative wash-out of two years ago in the midst of economic crisis.
While financial turmoil in Europe and other regions still depresses consumer sentiment, wine-makers expect much from the rising demand of emerging market economies and in particular countries such as China as buyers and trade representatives walk the long halls of the Vinexpo trade fair, held every two years.
"If it goes like last time round, we will no longer have a Vinexpo but Vinaigrexpo," joked Daniel-Etienne Defaix, a wine-maker from the Chablis area, making a play on the French words for wine and vinegar.
"Last time I left the show with zero orders," he added, as he poured his 2002 vintage that is coming to the market this year and has been judged favourably by the wine press. Defaix releases his wines later to the market than many other makers of the white Burgundy wine of the area around the town of Chablis.
Vinexpo has turned into a high mass of the wine industry, full with pageants such as the Jurade dinner of Saint-Emilion or the Flower Party evening where the big names of the world wine industry, and especially those of Bordeaux, meet for small talk and big business.
NEW INSERT "We have gone through an unprecedented crisis but are in a substantial market," said Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo at the opening ceremony.
"We see good prospects, especially in the fast-growing economies of Asia and in particular in China," he added.
French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire urged French growers to continually improve the quality of the wines to stay ahead in the competition with big producer countries like Chile and Argentina. He also called on more unity in the sector.
"A French disease is too much squabbling, too much multiplication, too many umbrella organisations. What we need is a common front," he said, referring to a Chinese wine buyer he recently met who had said he needed big quantities of wines of a common quality and taste for the Chinese market. Continued...