Nov 28: The 9th edition of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) held on 20 and 21 November 2017 at RAI Amsterdam with around 220 exhibitors and over 6,000 visitors from over 60 countries participating, concluded successfully even though the amount of business conducted might have been less because of huge increase in the prices of bulk wine due to lower production in many parts of the world, writes Subhash Arora who feels this Exhibition is very relevant to the Indian producers and importers besides representing 38% of the world production
Barring the lower presence of Argentina which was muted due to non availability of bulk wine supply, the other countries were well represented with increased Eastern European presence spearheaded by Moldavia. As always, there were seminars on interesting topics related to bulk wines and beyond. The 2-day Conference on ‘The Art of Blending Wines’ was of world-class quality where the winemakers and experts presented various aspects of wine blending from countries like the US, France, Spain and Italy, keeping the participants fascinated with interesting information.
Record Prices on Bulk Wine
Record prices of bulk wine from some of the producer countries, was one of the talking points at this year’s Show. Spain, which had seen the low price of as low as €.39 a couple of years ago, commanded a price of up to €0.80 per liter. A Chilean producer I visited 7 years ago and whose wines I have been tasting at the Show for several years as he makes very good quality wines, was quoting as high as €1.50/liter for wine that sold for €1.1 last year. Lower production due to catastrophic weather conditions has ruined the crops in various proportions.
Internationally experienced bulk wine business writer and bulk wine broker from Sweden, Cruz Liljegren is based in Barcelona where he is the Head of Broking for the ‘Premium Wine Broker’ that specialises in premium bulk wines . He estimates that the average price increase would be to the tune of 15-25%. But he also felt that the prices were at a peak and might come down by 10% after a few months. He recommended it was best to start negotiations now but conclude the deals later, if possible.
Private Labels and Bulk Wines
Bulk wines have been playing an increasing role in private labels by importers and practically all the supermarket chains which had their buyers visiting the Show. More and more bulk wine producers are willing to also bottle and sell, keeping in view the stability of the long-term business, said Cruz, while speaking at one of the several seminars, "Let´s talk about Private Label – basics, trends and success stories". (detailed account in a future issue)
Besides the conference on Private Labels by Cruz Liljegren there were several other useful seminars at WBWE, as usual. Besides the annual presentation by OIV of the world bulk wine situation there was a very interesting seminar on the Chinese market which is an enigma for many. (detailed Article in a future issue).
Voice of Wine Award for ProChile
ProChile was awarded the Prize Voice of Wine 2017 award for its endeavour to promote Chilean wine in foreign markets and their remarkable marketing and advertising campaigns. Alejandro Buvinic, Director of ProChile, came personally to collect the Award from the organizer, Otilia Romero de Condés, in the presence of the Chilean Ambassador in Netherlands.
Buvinic who was in Delhi last month for Chilean wine promotion, claimed that in the case of wine promotion their work had been continuous and evolving and was now well-recognized. He said, ‘while it is true that our campaign focus is on the bottled wine, we also support the value of bulk wine due to excess stock and the contribution to producing markets with problems with their harvests, as well as its importance in terms of sustainability when bottled in destination.’
“Today, we are the 4th largest global wine exporter accounting for around US$ 1.9 billion and bulk wine represents 42% of our overall shipments,” he added.
The Award is given each year to an organisation at the national level, which has done exceptional service to the cause of promoting wines internationally-Wines of South Africa (WOSA), for instance has been one of the past recipients.
Sanjeev Gupta is one of the oldest wine importers in India. In the process of revamping his business- Hi-Spirits, he was happy to be invited as a VIP Buyer. He was happier after he visited the Exhibition for the first time. ‘It was a wonderful experience; I wish I had visited earlier. I have had meetings with over 20 producers and I am sure I will be able to achieve what I planned to. It’s going to be extremely beneficial to me in the medium to long term. The quality of wines has been very good for many wines I have tasted. The prices are higher than the previous years due to lower supply globally but everyone is in the same boat,’ he said.
International Bulk Wine Competition (IBWC)
IBWC might be perhaps the world’s smallest international wine competition in terms of the number of samples but the volume they represent is by no means small or less important. A medal in this competition gives an added impetus to the quality of bulk wines. Judging at the competition is slightly different than other blind tastings in that the wines are presented in bottles but they could well be tank samples and not yet ready for dispatch. Besides, some of them are produced as blending wines so the criteria for judging may be different and must be incorporated in the standard.
Arora has been invited as one of the international judges for the past several years and was again invited as one of the Panel presidents for the Tasting on 19 November. Winners of the Gold Medal, Gold and Silver medals were announced on November 20 and the medal winning wines displayed. For inexplicable reasons, white wines were of universally better quality whereas the reds were similar to that in the previous years.
Though there has been a major change in the ownership with the entry of Comexposium taking over the shares of the earlier partners Euromoney and some of the Pomona Keepers that founded and owned WBWE, there has been no visible change in the way the Exhibition was organised. It appears that Otilia Romero de Condés and Vicente Sánchez Migallón, who own Pomona Keepers and remain as shareholders of WBWE, were on the driver’s seat.
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