March 19: Ostensibly the world’s largest annual wine fair, Prowein celebrates its 25th year as it opened its gates on Sunday 17th March to welcome over 20,000 visitors that include 900 accredited journalists, with practically all the wine producing nations including India with a nominal presence of one producer, Grover Zampa Vineyards, showcasing their wine, writes Subhash Arora, who marvels at the professionalism of the German organising machinery and the increasing influence of the Show over the last few years
The 25th edition of the world's largest and most important trade fair held annually in March for wines and spirits since 1994, had a ceremonial opening on Sunday, 17 March with the German Federal Minister for Agriculture Julia Klöckner welcoming the invited guests from the international wine and spirits industry and stressing the importance of the industry and the trade fair. She won several hearts when she said, "Wine is an important factor not only for the local and national economies, but also for culture and, just as important, for enjoying the fine things life has to offer,” adding that “winegrowing shapes the landscape of entire regions in Germany”. The politicians in India need to decipher that for the good of their own people.
Over 6900 exhibitors are exhibiting wines and related products from 70 countries. Over 20,000 people are estimated to have entered the arena with a total of 60,000 expected to attend the 3-day wine fest from 17-19 March. Quite an impressive growth of exhibitors from 321 in `1994 to the current number this year! And the new Messe Süd Administrative Building coming up near the multi-storied building is a testimonial to the past performance and future projections.
Mundusvini Tastings and Trophies
The day was full of activities besides numerous guided tastings at several stands and conferences that obliged the organisers to issue a booklet for each day’s activities besides the Tastings at Stands nos. 9-17. In Addition, stand no. 7 has been allocated to showcase spirits.
One such activity was in the Mundusvini Tasting Area with Trophy and Gold medal winning wines of the Spring Edition of Mundusvini International Wine Competition last month, available for tasting. Mundusvini always has a huge Tasting Stand where the medal and trophy winners are available for Tasting with full Tasting Notes. Also, the trophy winners are announced at the stand which saw a lot of commotion during the early morning session at the Stand.
Among many Trophies and Awards was the announcement of Gruppo Mezzacorona receiving the Best Italian Producer award while Les Domaines Paul Mas won the French equivalent.
Comité Champagne had an important Press Conference at noon, in which the details of Champagne exports for 2018 were disclosed. Last year's total turnover for Champagne set a new record of close to €4.9 billion in value, 0.3% higher. However, volumes were lower by 1.8% to 302 million bottles. France and the UK, which account for 60% of total sales, were responsible for most of this decline. Overall, exports are on an upward trajectory (+0.6% in volume and +1.8% in revenue, indicating a slight increase in prices). However, 2018 was an unprecedented year with a bumper harvest of outstanding quality. This is good news for the future Champagne cuvees and hopefully no price increase for the new couple of vintages.
It is interesting to point out that due to various reasons, the most important being the rising popularity of Prosecco, the sale of champagne has stabilised after topping 330 million bottles, obliging the Comité to announce increase in the Champagne producing region but subsequent flattening of demand made them rescind that order.
Primum Familae Vinum (PFV) Tasting
The Association of 12 producers including Joseph Drouhin and Torres sold in India by Prestige Wines, had its usual Tasting at the common stand of Magnums of their superior vintages and was a big draw as always. Many such showcases were visible throughout the campus.
Sunday was full of such activities, not to mention the numerous stands to visit and several old wine friends popping out of nowhere and wishing you; most hoping to have you visit their stand. That’s when one realised that 3 days was too short for meeting producers and tasting their wines- wishful thinking indeed. Despite their best efforts, life has taken a different meaning for the exhibitors and visitors alike- and 3 days is just right for such disruption in life. Undoubtedly, those who benefit from the educational value of the Show are big sufferers.
Tasting of VDP wines
One of the interesting aspects of the Show is the possibility of tasting VDP wines which are stars of the German wine production with around 200 producers selected as members with utmost care, and with consistent quality of wines over a long period; the membership is by invitation only. A select group of journalists was invited for Tasting and Dinner at Karl’s Restaurant in the city.
There were 16 wines available for tasting at the Restaurant which did a tremendous job –smilingly, of pouring wines (though there was also self pouring possible and was more the rule than the exception). The aperitifs and the main course were served as small plates, including the 2 desserts followed by bread and cheese served in an unusual way (small plate). The customary photograph I take on such occasions of all the 16 producers paving the way for every other journalist following me and publishing on Social Media, could not be undertaken as a majority of producers left even before the dinner was completely served.
Prowein über alles
Most visitors don’t look at the statistics and consider this German wine show the biggest on earth. This needs to be checked out but overall, it is a great Show and without meaning to denigrate other wine shows, one feels it is the best and the biggest. Every show otherwise has its own built up character.
Grover Zampa Vineyards from India realised the importance of the Show and the Chairman Ravi Viswanathan came directly from Singapore to attend, while CEO Vivek Chandramohan and the Marketing and Export Manager Sumit Jaiswal flew in from India. Sula’s absence was glaring though a big team including the Founder CEO Rajeev Samant was seen visiting. Several importers were of course seen visiting the principals or negotiating for the new ones. Despite Vinitaly next month and the biennial Vinexpo in May around the corner, Prowein is of major relevance both for producers looking to increase the exports or the importers looking for new wines or meeting the principals for planning their purchases ahead.
At Prowein, March 18, 2019
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