The countdown for Singapore's premier wine show, Wine for Asia 2006, began last week with the announcement by the organisers that New World imports into the city-state have grown phenomenally over the past five years.
The show, where the Indian Wine Academy is a partner, will be held on November 2-4, 2006 , at the Singapore Expo, where over 450 wine exhibitors, 13,000 regional and local visitors, and trade buyers from 40 countries are expected to converge for three days of intense networking.
Statistics from International Enterprise Singapore, the combined import of still wines in containers less than 2 litres from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, USA and Canada - which represent the bulk of New World wine-producing countries - reached 6.65 million litres in 2005. That from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria reached 4.34 million litres. In 2001, import of wine from the New World totalled 3.65 million litres, trailing that of the Old World, which brought 3.83 million litres.
These figures explain the choice of the potentially explosive theme for this year's Wine for Asia - ' Old World, New World : Convergence or Divergence?'.
To make the show more attractive, the organizers are flying in over 100 VIP buyers. A number of buyers are coming with shopping budgets of S$1 million-plus, says a media release issued by the show organizers, Singapore Exhibitions (Singex). Steven Chwee, WFA2006 Project Manager, said: " The show targets the Asian wine markets and hence our VIP buyer programme targets key wine buyers from Asia's emerging wine markets such as China, Korea , Thailand, Malaysia, and India."
Indian producers Chateau Indage and Sula Wines planted their respective flags in this nation of wine lovers at last year's Wine for Asia, which was attended by a sizeable Indian delegation put together by the Indian Wine Academy.
Between 2001 and 2005, the import of wines from the New World countries grew by 82% compared with a 13% growth in wines from the Old World countries. The fastest growth in import of New World wines, as reported earlier by delWine, came from New Zealand, imports from where jumped 292%, followed by Argentina (268%) and Chile (104%).
Imports from France, the traditional bastion of Old World wines, grew by 10%; those from Spain registered a 99% growth, followed by Germany (61%).
The difference in import values between the Old World and New World has narrowed. It was S$19.26 million in 2001, but was reduced to S$10.79 million in 2005. But the Old World continues to lead in terms of import value.
The value per litre of imported wine from the Old World was S$14.24 in 2001 compared to S$9.66 from the New World. In 2005, the import value per litre from the Old World surged ahead to S$18.56, compared with S$10.48 from the New World.
"There is more to it than just looking at statistics," said the Wine for Asia co-organiser, Malcolm Tham of Wine Resources. "The objective of choosing the theme is two-fold. First, we would like to create awareness on wine style developments both in the Old World and New World countries. Second, we would like to gauge the preferences of Asian drinkers in terms of choice of wine styles."
To gauge the preference for wine styles, all visitors to Wine for Asia 2006 will be asked to taste sets of two styles of wines. The wines will have similar vintages, grape varieties and alcohol content, but will differ in terms of styles - the first will be more fruit driven, the second will have more complex flavours. After tasting the wines, the visitors will state their preferences. The results will be shown live on each exhibition day.
The exhibition will be spread over 10,000 square metres and the 16 country pavilions will be from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain, France, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, India, China and Singapore.
This year, clearly, there is a visible expression of interest from South American wineries in the Asian market. For the first time, the show will see new wine representations from Venezuela and Mexico.
For the first time, the organisers have launched an online business matching programme to enable exhibitors and buyers to interact with one another prior to the show. Key buyers will have access to guided master tastings at the show and will get a chance to participate in conferences and forums and play host to exhibitors during a 'Buyers-Hosts-Sellers Networking Night'.