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Vinisud – A Fine Show for Fine Mediterranean Wines

Posted: Wednesday, 07 March 2012 15:59

Vinisud – A Fine Show for Fine Mediterranean Wines

March 07 : The 10th edition of the biennial wine exhibition Vinisud held at Parc des Expositions in Montpellier came to a successful close after 3 days of buzz, excitement and business transactions last month with the organisers formally announcing its debut in the Chinese market with the first show to be held in Shanghai on February 26-28, 2013, writes Subhash Arora who was one of the 32,880 visitors

Forget about Cabernet; Carignan was the king here. Pinot Noir was overshadowed by Syrah and Grenache was the variety that enticed you to different wines-in all shapes and colours, including white, red and rosé.  Of course there were international varietals from Tunisia and Nebbiolo from Italy. But there was more Mourvedre and Malbec than Merlot at various stands from South of France at Vinisud 2012.

A total of 1,664 exhibitors of Mediterranean wines participated from various parts of South of France, Languedoc, Rhone, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Greece, Portugal, Turkey and Morocco.  Presence of Italy was in fact quite impressive, with producers from Abruzzo, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Piemonte, Puglia, Sicily, Tuscany, Trentino Alto Adige, Umbria and Veneto being present. The number of visitors showed a minor increase from the 32,269 who recorded their presence last time in 2010. A number of specialised tastings and wine and food pairing events were held along with several Master Classes.

Palais Méditerranéen:  One of the unique features at this show was the free access tasting (I had enjoyed a similar one at Fennavin, Spain a few years ago) at a special pavilion called Palais Méditerranéen. Organised and managed by the Union des Œnologues de France, it offered the visitors an opportunity to taste a category of wines or any specific wine in private without the producer or anyone else disturbing. Norbert Perkin who has been in-charge of this segment of the exhibition says, ‘this is an extremely popular section of the fair and has been continuously expanding because of wider interests. While there were 1800 wines during the previous edition, this time there are 2200 labels participating. At €95 for 3 labels, it is a very affordable option for the producers to have more people to taste their wines and hopefully go back to the producers when they like the wine.’ Each wine has a catalogue card that lists all the necessary characteristics, including the grape blend, alcohol, sugar and acid levels with the location of the exhibitor.

Since the wines from different producers are arranged in a cluster, it is a great opportunity for learning about a region as also comparing the wines from different producers. For instance, I had to taste only 15 wines from Cahors in South West France to realize that most were produced with  100% Malbec though a couple of producers  added a dash of Merlot ((10%). Also, the alcohol level was consistently 14% although there were a couple of variants at 13 or even 14.5%. One could also learn that the wines were not as fruity as Argentine Malbecs but were quite elegant and concentrated.

Pink Provence

Although Tavel in Loire Valley is considered one of the most popular wine areas for Rose, it was Provence that could be seen from a distance with all its Rosés in different shades of Pink. Known for its beautiful vineyards and with 80% of wines being Rosé, Provence is truly the Rosé capital of the world and this section  was a testimonial with Domaine de Cantarelle, one of the proud exhibitors displaying a complete range of Rosés in international varieties-Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet, among many exhibitors.

Master Classes

There were interesting Master Classes from different regions including Corsica and Cava, the highlight being one on the ‘Varieties of the Mediterranean’ conducted by Gerard Basset MW, OBE and World’s Best Sommelier 2010. He had selected 12 wines from different parts of South France, Piemonte and Priorat- Mas de Madame, Domaine Cassagnoles, Domaine Ferrer Ribiere, Domaine Yves Cuilleron, Domaine Leccia, Domaine Alain Graillot, Ch Ollieux Romanis, Ch Romanin, Epicure Wines (Priorat), Domaine Cazes, Rivetto (Piemonte) and Le Faite. As might be expected, it was an extremely popular event with Basset giving helpful tips and notes on each wine, the region and the producer. Some of these wines are already being served at his restaurant in Southampton, UK.

Chateau Le French Soula

Several known producers already represented in India-like Gerard Bertrand, Advini (Michele Laroche), Bernard Magrez, Daumas Gassac  and Casetta were visible while many others hope to mark their presence in India soon. An interesting exhibit was from Le Soula, a South of France winery co-owned by Mark Walford who has been exporting wines to India through Brindco. Making a small entry into the market in France and UK , it was started in collaboration with Gerard Gauby, a well- known winemaker of the Roussillon region in 2001, it has established itself as a boutique organic winery located at high altitude in Roussillon region.

Le Soula is already selling in over two dozen Michelin starred restaurants in UK, France, Japan and Italy including the 3-starred The Fat Duck and The Waterside Inn in UK, Lamelois in France, and Michel Bras Troya in Japan. No relation to the Indian Sula, the French Le Soula is hoping to enter the Indian market soon, where the discerning restaurants ought to be looking at the high quality wines at affordable prices.

Onwards to China

Following the footsteps of older cousin Vinexpo which holds Vinexpo Pacific in Hong Kong every alternate year (29-31 May this year’s edition), Vinisud has also decided to enter the lucrative China  market directly with the inaugural Show of Vinisud Asia 2013 slated for February 26-28 at Shanghai. About 300 exhibitors from the Mediterranean are expected to take part in the Show that was officially announced at Vinisud.

Vinisud offers opportunities to look at wines which are still affordable and yet whose quality may be quite respectable and is a Show worth attending.

Subhash Arora


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