Staying up to date with the ever-changing wine scene can be difficult, but attending the Vinexpo in Bordeaux every two years helps Cayman Distributors’ Wine Sales Manager Jodie Petts do just that.
Going to the Vinexpo wine trade show in Bordeaux, France, tasting wines, dining in chateaus and chatting with wine professionals from all over the world isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“It was very tiring,” said Jodie Petts, Cayman Distributors’ wine sales manager, with a smile.
From 19 – 23 June, Petts attended the bi-annual Vinexpo, the largest wine trade show in the world with some 2,400 exhibitors and more than 48,000 attendees.
“The main purpose for me going is to keep up relationships. You get to see people you don’t get to see every year,” she said, adding that attending Vinexpo makes it easier to meet with people from wineries in faraway places like New Zealand and Australia.
In fact, Vinexpo organisers like to say attendees can “travel around the world in five days” because they have exhibitors from 47 different counties.
“There are literally… thousands of wineries represented there,” said Petts, noting that the action takes place in a huge, indoor conference centre where wineries are grouped loosely by region.
In addition to keeping up with contacts, attending Vinexpo allows Petts to stay current with trends in the wine business. There are several trends she noted at this year’s Vinexpo, which was the third one she’s attended.
Probably the biggest trend she noticed was the number of Chinese attendees at the trade show.
“The Chinese are buying up most of the 2010 vintage of Bordeaux,” she said, adding that the exhibitors were prepared for the large Chinese contingent. “Many booths had one Chinese-speaking sales rep.”
There are also some interesting things happening with French wines.
“Languedoc seems to be producing better wines,” she said, referring to the French wine region generally known for producing inexpensive vin de pays – country wine – rather than high quality wines. “They’re starting to produce wines from the hillsides there.”
Another general trend in wine that is even gaining steam in France is the use of metal screw caps, especially for white wines. Petts says she’s a fan already.
“It keeps wines very fresh with less chance [than cork] for oxidation, and you can’t get corked wine,” she said, adding that screw caps are also very handy for travelling.
Petts said the French are also rediscovering Malbec – one of their own grapes that fell out of favour – mainly because of the huge success of Malbec in Argentina in recent years.
“It’s now becoming more popular again, using modern wine-making techniques.” She said French Malbec has a lot going for it compared to Argentinian Malbec.
“It has much more spice and tannins and that is because of terrior.”
The Vinexpo also gives Cayman Distributors a chance to expand their wine portfolio.
“We have a few gaps in our portfolio,” she said, noting that the company would add some new wines that she discovered at Vinexpo, including Château Lafleur de Haute-Serre Malbec from Georges Vigouroux in the Cahors region. Petts said the wine, which has about five per cent Merlot added to soften the tannins and make it more approachable when young, is already in Blackbeard’s stores and sells for $17.99.
The Cayman contingent
The Vinexpo is attended by many of Cayman’s wine professionals and one of the people she ran into was sommelier Kristian Netis of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Netis spoke to Radio Cayman’s Jay Ehrhart about his experience at the Vinexpo.
“I’ve been tasting mostly wines from the Old World, but I really wouldn’t call wines Old World or New World anymore,” he said. “Everything is… global. The Old World is producing wine which tastes like Californian wines and the New World is producing wine that tastes like Old World wine, so there are few fingerprint wines that you can actually identify.”
Netis said he thinks Rose wines are making a revival and that many of the distributors he spoke to wanted him to taste a Rose when he told them where he was living.
“We working pretty hard in Cayman to establish Rose, because I think it’s a great combination with the Caribbean flavours that we’re serving and with the quality of fish we’re serving,” he said. “That’s a main focus for me for the future.”
For drinking every day, and not necessarily, with food, Netis said the Rose from Provence was perfect. He said the Rose from Bordeaux had much more intensity and really required a food pairing to enjoy.
Netis noted that there were a lot of up-and-coming new wine regions in Europe, especially when it came to white wines. He said he’d seen wineries from Romania, Hungary and even Georgia at the Vinexpo, but that those regions probably needed another 10 years of wine making before they were producing consistently good wines.
A big fan of Riesling, Netis said the 2010 vintage might even be better than the great 2009 vintage and that the Austrian white wines from that vintage are also very good.