This year, we in Asia were fortunate to have Vinexpo come our way as it was held last May 23 to 25 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Some friends and I were able to attend courtesy of our good friends at Ralph's Wines and Spirits, the Philippines largest chain of stand-alone wine shops.
What strikes you immediately is the absence of the Australians from the show. I don't believe there was any Australian representation at all. I heard a rumor the Aussies were boycotting this year due to some problems they had in Bordeaux last year. In contrast, the marketing push by Bordeaux, Germany and Italy were quite impressive, More on this later.
The first booth we targeted was occupied by Guigal, Gaja, Jadot and Taylors Port. Remarkably, no one seemed to be paying any attention to the Guigal stand while we were there so we were treated to a comprehensive tasting of nearly the entire range of Guigal by Philippe Guigal. We started with the whites from the Cotes du Rhone up to and including La Doriane Condrieu. With the reds we also progressed from the Cotes du Rhone up to Cote Rotie La Mouline 2002. La Turque and La Landonne were also available but were intercepted by another group before we could have a taste. It was impossible to jot or make any notes, unfortunately. I will say that Guigal certainly deserves his formidable reputation based on what we tasted. For the record, I still don't understand Viognier and don't get all the fuss generated by Condrieu.
We moved next door to Gaja which, lucky for us, was also free of crowds. We were attended to by Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja, and in charge of their Tuscan operations. Again we got a comprehensive tasting of their Tuscan wines and finished with the 2001 Barbaresco. Again no notes, unfortunately. The Barbaresco was very good but I found the Tuscan wines somewhat international in style. Very good, no doubt, but lacking something Italian.
After lunch was a tasting of the Cercle Rive Droit which is the association of Bordeaux Right Bank Chateaux. Unfortunately, it was a rather chaotic affair with too many producers in too small a space with too many tasters jostling each other. I tried about 3 wines before giving up.
Following the Bordeaux tasting, I attended a seminar on German wines by Joel Payne, who co-authored the Gault Millau German wine guide. This will be covered in a separate post.
After the seminar we went back to the main hall to wander around and ended up at the Taylors booth which, again, didn't have too many people paying it any heed. Again we were given nearly the full range starting with the 10 and 20 year old tawnies then the Vargellas Vintage 1998 and ending with the magnificent Vintage 2003. Still no notes but I can tell you the Vintage 2003 is fantastic stuff. Very full, pure, sweet plummy, fruit with sweet spices. The 20 Year Old Tawny isn't too shabby either; clean, smooth and nutty.
More notes from Vinexpo to follow soon.