The Bordeaux elite descended on Hong Kong in force for last week’s Vinexpo Asia-Pacific.
Among the 692 exhibitors from 32 countries were countless celebrated names, notably numerous Bordeaux grandees, all keen to tap into the expected growth spawned by China’s emerging middle class.
Bordeaux proprietors and senior executives present were Frederic Engerer of Chateau Latour, Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier, Christian Seely of AXA Millesimes, Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus and Gildas d’Ollone of Pichon Lalande.
They were joined by several big names from Burgundy, Italy and the Rhône.
By comparison, the New World was thin on the ground. While Chilean and Argentinian producers were prominent, the Australian, Californian and South African presence was notable by its absence.
A total of 7,879 visitors passed through Vinexpo’s doors on the first two days of the show, with organisers expecting this to exceed 8,500 by the third day. The figure represents a 24% increase on 2006, the last time the show was held in Asia.
The vast majority of visitors were from Hong Kong, Macau and China, followed by Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
The Hong Kong and Chinese market is buoyant. Nicholas Pegna, managing director of Berry Bros in Hong Kong, said the last financial year, 2007-08, was a record in terms of sales.
But this year, he said, surpassed even that. ‘In the eight weeks from April to now we have done as much business as in five months last year.’
In those two months turnover for BBR had been more than US$35m, 80% of it fine Bordeaux and Burgundy.
At Vinexpo the Bordelais laid on several tastings for an enthusiastic crowd, with many St-Emilion and Médoc classed growths running out of wine barely halfway through the events.
The Cercle de Rive Droite, the Alliance de Cru Bourgeois and the Alsace and Sauternes generic bodies also held packed tastings.
‘The level of interest is astonishing,’ said Comte Stephan von Neipperg of Canon La Gaffelière. ‘But the level of knowledge has some way to go to match it.’
The chief secretary for the Hong Kong administration, Henry Tang, a known wine collector, opened Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, claiming, ‘We have ample appetite to become the leading wine trading and distribution centre in Asia.’
Written by Guy Woodward, and Adam Lechmere