Report from ProWein 2017


I enjoyed a brief dip into ProWein in Düsseldorf on Sunday. It has gone from humble beginnings in 1994 to being the leading European wine fair, with 6,400 exhibitors from 60 countries. 

I had time only for the most superficial taste of this extensive but very logically organised annual event in one of Europe's larger exhibition spaces but saw on the cellphone of the director that visitor numbers have increased substantially on last year. I concentrated on tasting wines that don't often cross my radar, privileging local varietal specialities from Azerbaijan (rather impressive Bayanshira whites and Madrasa reds), Herzegovina (Žilavka whites and Blatina reds) and the Azores (a dizzying cocktail of American hybrids and Madeira-like varieties). 

My visit was inspired by an invitation to host a private tasting of notable wines being shown at ProWein this year to 30 fellow wine writers from all over the world. (I'll be hosting two tastings at ProWein Hong Kong on Monday 8 May.) For the German version I was sent the complete list of all of the tens of thousands of wines to be shown and had to whittle it down to just six or seven choices. I decided to concentrate on wines that made a point and that I had already tasted and enjoyed. It was interesting (to me anyway) that of the seven, only the last two had been grown in places internationally famous for wine 20 years ago. And many of the wines demonstrated the current trend to a return to traditional from industrial methods.

At the end, just for fun, I took a vote on people's favourite wine (not everyone voted, and one or two left early – perhaps to catch a rival gig whose stars were Tuscan wine producers Sting and his wife Trudie Styler, pictured above at the fair yesterday). Below are the average tax-free retail prices according to plus the votes. Interesting that the joint favourites are both white even though they represented only three of the seven wines.

WineCountryAlcoholRRP (USD)No of votes
Schäfer Frölich, Schiefergestein Riesling trocken 2015 NaheGermany12.5%$210
Herbert Zillinger, Radikal Grüner Veltliner 2015 WeinviertelAustria13.5%$336
De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2014 ItataChile13%$222
Terre Nere, Santo Spirito Rosso 2014 EtnaItaly14.5%$364
Changyu Moser Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 NingxiaChina14.5%$210
Tardieu Laurent, Vieilles Vignes 2015 Crozes-HermitageFrance13%$194
Williams & Humbert, Jalifa 30 Year Old VORS SherrySpain19.5%$43 (37.5cl)6
photo: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann