Piedmont's Roberto Bava was so frustrated by his fellow winemakers complaining about their economic troubles that he hired a Boeing 737 and flew them all to Vinexpo for the day.

The highly-respected producer said the wine world is indeed having difficulties, but he found it difficult to persuade his colleagues it was worth taking a stand at the Bordeaux trade fair.

‘The world of wine is suffering a bit, the market’s difficult, and Barolo and Barbaresco producers are suffering nearly as much as they are in Bordeaux. But if you have troubles you shouldn’t close the door – they’ll still be there when you come out,’ he said.

So Bava paid 45,000 euros for a plane and filled it with producers, journalists, various consorzi, the Asti chamber of commerce, the president of the local bank, and an assortment of other wine professionals.

About 120 people flew into Bordeaux early yesterday having been served reportedly delicious Alta Langa sparkling wine, chocolate (Bava is a chocolate connoisseur), real Piedmontese nougat and a copy of La Stampa – the local edition with their story in it.

They also brought in a good supply of salami and fresh bread for Bava’s lunch.

‘It was complicated, because once you’ve chartered a 737 you have to fill it. But that was no problem in the end, and they all had a good time,’ the producer said.

Sergio Miravelle, the La Stampa wine correspondent (also responsible for the salami) said it was a very valuable day. He added his editor wouldn’t have let him come if he hadn’t been given Piedmontese sparkling wine on the plane.

Bava, who is head of his local branch of Confindustria, a trade grouping, said it was essential that producers come to Vinexpo.

‘You can’t quantify how useful it is to spend four or five hours meeting other wine professionals who are all in the same situation,’ he said.

One month ago, the main Italian wine trade body, the ICE (Istituto per il Commercio con l’Estero), announced that is was pulling out of Vinexpo. The ICE said it was cancelling its participation due to its small, fragmented exhibition area which ‘would not present the right image’.

Written by Adam Lechmere in Bordeaux