World’s Largest Wine Show Opens Amid Bright Outlook
BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ Wine and spirits producers are showing off their products at the industry’s largest trade show amidst optimism of a recovery from more than a decade of shrinking consumption.
The biennial Vinexpo, which opened Monday, is expected to attract 2,000 producers and exporters from 41 countries displaying and sharing wines, brandies, beers and liqueurs for a rejuvenated international market.
``Finally, the French Paradox is having an effect on consumers,″ said Paul Molleman, European marketing director of the California Wine Institute, referring to studies that show a few glasses of red wine a day can prevent clogged arteries, strokes and heart attacks.
Bordeaux wines are leading the way out of the global slump, according to figures released by the Bordeaux Wine Trade Council. Exports in 1993-94 totaled 20 million cases worth $837 million _ a recovery from two years of decline.
Domestically Bordeaux sales volume rose marginally to 39 million cases worth $1.9 billion.
``Futures sales this year are beyond all expectations,″ Vinexpo President Jean-Paul Jauffret said of the annual speculative sales of quality French wine for the 1994 vintage which will be bottled next year.
In the United States, first-quarter U.S wine exports were up 14 percent _ a good sign because exports decreased in 1994 after eight years of double-digit growth, said Molleman of the California Wine Institute.
At the five-day Vinexpo, wine producers from around the world will get the opportunity to link up with international distributors who can give their products some much-sought exposure. A record 35 percent of the exhibitors this year come from abroad.
``People are afraid they will lose their markets to new producers from New Zealand or Chile or South Africa,″ said Carlos Nunez of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade. ``They have to come here to maintain their presence.″
So did Israel’s Golan Heights Winery, which makes quality _ and kosher _ varietal wines from chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.
``We come here to be seen in the world wine market,″ said the winery’s Victor Schoenfeld. ``Repetition is important, and we need people to see us here.″
Smaller, less-known French winemaking regions are vying for exposure as well, such as the appellation Costieres de Nimes in the Provence region of southern France, created in 1986.
``Our wines are very rounded, with soft tannins, and very fruity and long in the mouth,″ says Anne Collard, who with her husband owns Chateau Mourgues du Gres.
Vinexpo will bring an estimated $61 million to the Bordeaux economy and 45,000 visitors are expected. But the show is closed to the public, creating some resentment among local residents.
Organizers have responded by setting up a series of thematic stalls and tents in downtown Bordeaux such as an Irish pub, a Jamaican rum bar, a Middle East cafe, a German beer hall, a Danish inn and a Tex-Mex eatery, all with local wines and liquors.