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Bordeaux 2011: En Primeur turnout ‘highest ever’ says UGC

According to official figures from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, last week’s en primeur tastings attracted the highest-ever number of visitors to Bordeaux.

In total, 6,400 official passes were issued. Although UGC president Sylvie Cazes admitted ‘that does not necessarily mean all of them turned up’, it is still more than the 6000 issued last year.

Visitors came from 68 different countries – the same number as last year – and made 3,400 chateaux visits each day, tasting samples poured into 25,000 Riedel glasses.

According to the UGC, there were 16,349 visits registered at the seven official tastings venues for the wine trade.

Overall there were 68 nationalities represented at the tastings, 30% non-French, with a significant rise in the number of Europeans compared to American and Asian visitors.

Although no figures have yet been released on the exact breakdown of the ‘68 nationalities’ – the UGC said they were ‘still number crunching’ – anecdotally most chateaux reported receiving less Asian buyers than the previous two campaigns.

Sylvie Cazes, president of the UGC, confirmed to Decanter.com that there were more European buyers than last year, but said, ‘there were still plenty of Chinese and Hong Kong buyers here, but many did not go through the UGC official tastings.’

Cazes said they were ‘very happy’ with the way the tastings had gone. While the European economic situation was still difficult, she said, they had ‘welcomed many American buyers back to Bordeaux this year.’

In relation to the numbers of Asian visitors this year, she said the Chinese market was regulating itself and would naturally shrink.

‘The Chinese market needed to regulate itself. So many companies have set up over the past three years both in Hong Kong and mainland China, and not all were going to survive. That is a necessary function of a maturing market, and we take it as a sign of strength.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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