Desperate Vinexpo bosses have have offered the Australians a 20% discount in a bid to get them on board next year.

Chief executive Robert Beynat flew over to Adelaide last month to try to persuade the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation to return to the huge Bordeaux wine fair.

The Australians – along with hundreds of other standholders – were victims of the notorious ‘Hall 3 Incident’, when the air conditioning failed in 45 degree heat during Vinexpo 2003.

As a result – and for other reasons – they along with Wines of South Africa and New Zealand Winegrowers pulled out of Vinexpo 2005.

Beynat told decanter.com he met AWBC boss Sam Tolley and general manager Paul Henry earlier this month.

‘We had a three-hour meeting, and I again offered them a 20% discount.’

He said that although Fosters, de Bortoli and other big Australian companies were there, he was keen to get the major government bodies back in the fold. ‘We want the flag,’ he said.

The AWBC decides this week whether it will take up the offer.

Vinexpo chairman Jean-Marie Chadronnier will meet the Wines of South Africa this month, and Beynat has met Warren Adamson of New Zealand Winegrowers, who is ‘hesitating’, he said.

Asked why he thought the Australians might be holding back on another Vinexpo in favour of the London International Wine and Spirits Fair Beynat said, ‘They have problems of overproduction. Wineries have problems paying growers. London is easier than Vinexpo: the language is the same, the ambience is different for an English-speaker. At Vinexpo you have to work harder – but it is the biggest.’

Vinexpo attracts around 40,000 visitors. Sixty per cent of the surface area of the fair is taken by French companies, of which 30% are Bordeaux.

Vinexpo 2007 takes place from 17 to 21 June.

Written by Adam Lechmere