Dr Ariff Jamal is an independent wine writer for various international wine magazines. He is a Chemist by profession and oenologist by trade. A professional taster and a member of various wine associations and brotherhoods in France , he has written two books on philosophy and spi ritu ality. He works in Beaune, the Capitol of Burgundy . He was also at Vinexpo recently and shares his views with our readers-Editor.
If one had to spend a minimum of 10 minutes at each stand, then it would have taken 2 ½ months to visit all the exhibitors present at the VINEXPO – 2005.
In the scorching heat of 40°C outside and with the air-conditioning at full blast to cool down the spirits of the 45000 wine pilgrimers attending the 13th holy meeting in Bordeaux, tasting and sampling wines produced and presented from over 40 countries in the world was a delight to any wine lover of any level.
All questions such as - what is the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Noir - or even - what is the difference in taste between a Grand Bordeaux Superieur and a Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux - could be answered in a jiffy, as just walking from on stand to another and tasting all the different nectars was just a delight. In a span of moments the whole spectrum of wine in the world was displayed to delight the most complicated and demanding pallet.
Each visitor was registered and received an entry or rather an identification badge, there was the blue for the exhibitors, the red for the visitors and the gold for the VIP buyers. This was the beginning of the cat and mouse game in a play ground of 41000 m² – it was delightful to watch how the blue-cats would eye the gold-mice and then prepare the commercial sprint and finally make the marketing pounce – not a chance – thus the poor mice, as always, were continually on the run, clocking number of kilometres on their expensive Church shoes, waiting for the cool evening when they could enjoy the vertical or horizontal tasting on one of the prestigious chateau’s followed by a sumptuous dinner until the earlier hours of the morning.
The five days of the exhibition did actually show the general fatigue on the face towards the end, irrespective of who you were and how organised your agenda was or whether you were there just to meet and refresh contacts or in fact source for a new line of product, the waking up early in the morning and battling through the Bordeaux traffic was indeed quite a chore.
On arrival at the complex the discrimination already began at the parking lot – exhibitors, visitors and then finally VIP – the distinction was the number of paces between the parking lot and the main entry which could vary between 500 meters to 3000 meters.
There were a number of activities around, but associated with VINEXPO, for example the special – air conditioned tents outside the main hall, where entrance is only granted by invitation, then there are special organised helicopter visits to various vineyards and Chateau’s around Bordeaux, but what is really relaxing are the restaurants outside the halls which are based on each French producing region – for example Bourgogne, Alsace, Beaujolais etc. where you can enjoy a traditional meal from that region and taste the corresponding wines from that region. So the wise man had five lunches in five different restaurants and experienced almost 50% of France.
As far as the pre-planned activities were concerned one could attend the following at no cost:
19th June Best Wines from Austria.
Grands Crus Classe`s from Saint-Emillion
20th June Bordeaux Red 2004
Ribera Del Duero
Grand Cru Bourgogne – White
Vins de Pays d’Oc
Grandes Pagos de Espana
21st June Bordeaux White 2004
Alsace wines with Cheese
22nd June Merlot – comparison from all over the world
Riesling from Germany
Parker rated wines from Pomerol
23rd June Best wines from Italy
Of course there were set timings and one was required to pre-register, but then again if you are interested in learning this is just a small inconvenience and a sacrifice that can be accepted.
For the intellectual connoisseurs, they too had their piece of cake and could attend seminars and open debates that were organised every day.
Then there was the evening and for those who were fed up of the sophisticated approach to the whole issue, well they could wind down and soften up and make there way to one of the fine restaurants in the city for a traditional ‘bordelaise ‘ diner and a fine bottle of local wine.
Many visitors stayed on a couple of days before their long onward journey back home and either spent a couple of days in Paris shopping or visiting other wine producing regions in France or for that matter just enjoyed ‘ Bordeaux-after-Vinexpo ‘ by visiting the various museums or other tourist sites.
So all in all it’s a great fair and should not be missed.