You may wonder why there have been so few releases of the 2007 bordeaux this week (only Evangile, a cool £850 a dozen at J&B)– or if you operate in or around the wine trade, you may wonder why things have been so quiet. The answer lies in the Far East. Practically everyone who is anyone in Bordeaux has been in Hong Kong at the fifth Vinexpo Asia-Pacific which has just finished.
It was officially opened on Tuesday by fine wine connoisseur Henry Tang Ying-yen, GBS, JP, Chief Secretary for Administration, HKSARG (who kindly provided me with my second best- ever taste of Cheval Blanc 1947 – news of the best yet to come) and Anne Marie Idrac, French Secretary for Foreign Trade. Asia is seen as so important to the French fine wine business that the French government is wheeling out its officials too! The pair were accompanied by Frederick Ma Si-hang, JP, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, HKSARG and Dominique Hériard Dubreuil the chair of the exhibition, which nicely keeps the money flowing in to its Bordeaux-based organizers in the years when there is no Vinexpo in Bordeaux..
The organizers claim that this year's expo broke all records with 8,500 visitors representing an increase of almost 24% in visitor numbers over the last one in 2006. An estimated 59% of visitors were foreigners, from 28 Asian countries led by China and followed by Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore plus a small percentage from such overseas markets as USA and UK. An estimated 41% of visitors were from Hong Kong and Macau.
This does no harm to the Hong Kong government's intention to establish Hong Kong as the hub of the Asian fine wine market, although there will be a big competition for numbers from Hong Kong's own international wine show planned, at rather short notice after the slashing of wine import duty in HK, for August 2008 as reported here.
The Bordeaux-owned exhibition was apparently covered by more than 340 television, radio, newspaper and magazine journalists from all over Asia as well as journalists from Europe and the United States.
Vinexpo 2008 occupied the entire main hall of Hong Kong's Exhibition Centre with 692 exhibitors from 32 countries including China, Australia, US, South America, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Macedonia and Moldova. (Sounds just as wide a spread as the London International Wine trade Fair last week…)
Mme Hériard Dubreuil's closing remarks were only very slightly condescending: "The general consensus amongst our exhibitors this year showed that they were extremely impressed with the quality of the professional contacts they have made, as well as the noticeable improvement in their knowledge and appreciation of wine and spirits. We firmly believe that this will help stimulate growth of the industry in the region and ultimately benefit the consumer." Not forgetting the French wine trade, of course.
On Saturday, Acker Merrall & Condit host the first American-run fine wine auction in Hong Kong and I hear that Acker's human dynamo John Kapon has been entertaining potential bidders with a lavishness uncommon even in HK for almost two weeks.