Vinexpo New York made its second appearance in the U.S. on March 4-5, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at Manhattan. The two-day event highlighted over 400 exhibitors from 26 countries, and attracted more than 3,000 wine and spirits professionals, among them importers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, sommeliers, e-commerce specialists, journalists, etc. A big snowstorm hit us the day before the event, hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed, and the last thing I said to my husband before I went to bed was “I hope this won’t affect their travel plans and the turnout rate”.
My concern turned out to be unnecessary. The sun was shining and by the time I arrived around 10am, it was already a full house. The two days of showcasing, business meeting, networking, wine tasting, and idea-sharing has begun.
Vinexpo And The U.S. Market
Vinexpo started in Bordeaux in 1981, and has connected wine professionals from all sectors in the industry since then. The program now spans three continents, with regular visits to Bordeaux, Hong Kong, Paris, now Shanghai and New York City. U.S. remains the world’s largest wine market by both volume and value since 2010, remains the fastest growing market in the world. The $36 billion wine market in 2018 is expected to reach $45 billion by 2021. It is no surprise that Vinexpo is now working on making New York a permanent stop.
Who Are The Exhibitors?
Albeit more than 400 exhibitors were participating, it was so well organized that it does not take you ten minutes to find the winery of interest, or get lost. The main exhibition was laid out mainly by countries and regions - the Loire Valley, Champagne, Bordeaux, Brazil, Austria, and Chile, etc. It was an inspiring experience conversing to the professionals and tasting the wines of pride. While I’m not going to write a book and list them all out one by one, I do wish to share with you some wines/wineries that have left profound impressions on my mind.
Austrian Wine (Schauer, Polz Erich & Walter Weingut, Skoff Original, Direder, Fink und Kotzian OG, Ebner-Ebenauer)
How many sub-regions do you know in Austria? How many grape varieties can you name? Austria has been famous for its Gruner Veltliner, Riesling and the noble rot sweet wines. But have you ever tried their Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay? Austria is certainly not the first that comes into my mind when I’m in the mood for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc - my limited knowledge about this area had me missed these gems for years! They are pure, refreshing, yet extremely concentrate and opulent, with pronounced floral/herbal notes and relatively long finish.
Austria has the greatest values in fine wine, with premium quality village labels ranging from 10 to 20 €, and world class single vineyard expressions available from ~30 €, while a similar level of Burgundy would cost you anywhere between 100 - 600 € and a Napa Valley 120 - 160 €.
I discovered Art Russe at the end of Day 1 of Vinexpo. After a whole day drinking and in meetings, seminars, I was already extremely exhausted and so was my taste bud! But, how could I say no to Saint-Emilion Grand Cru and these beautiful wine bottles and art? So I sat down and Natalya poured me glasses of their 2014, 15, and 16 selections. She was also tired after a long day talking, but I could see the sparkles in her eyes when she spoke about the wines, winery, and art. And it was not hard to see why she was so proud!
The wines…wow! The exact right amount of opulence from Merlot, notes of smokiness, mouthcoating tannins, and a lingering finish! I personally loved the ‘14 better, probably because ‘15 and ‘16 were too young, still amazed to see how beautiful they already were. They were particularly impressive, since typically at the end of a day of intense drinking 100+ wines, your taste bud is numb and nothing jumps out anymore...
Art Russe Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
What’s New This Year?
WOW! World of Organic Wines
A new pavillion that featured an exhibit and tasting area showcasing organic, biodynamic wines and spirits from the globe. With statistics revealing that 30% of U.S. wine consumers interested in organic wines, and sales up 12% in the past a few years, hence this pavilion has earned a prominent location in the exhibiting hall! There has been a steady increase in sustainable farming, winemaking lately and US winemakers are paying extra attention to organic viticulture. On walking into the exhibition, a great many of them are family-owned wineries or small businesses committed to natural winemaking - native yeast, minimal intervention in the vineyards as well as winery, none or minimal filtration and clarification. It was funny that the exhibition was literally called WOW! - an excellent way to praise artisan and sustainable winemaking upfront!
Wine Spectator 90+ Club Tasting Bar:
A special exhibition that targeted to spotlight wines that have earned 90+ points scores in Wine Spectator’s official blind tastings. Including some beautiful single vineyard wines from Uruguay, Cariñena from Spain, and the very interesting Bordeaux Supérieur.
The Master Classes
I was hesitant to attend the classes as I was worried they could be too “introductory” or just some cliche. To my surprise, it was quite a thoughtful mix of old world vs new world - various amazing new faces and intriguing trends in the well-known regions as well! As I mentioned I was quite impressed by the Austrian wines - Sabine Wolf and Arvid Rosengren did a terrific job on walking through the “insider’s secret” - Austrian wine is one of the most hippy things happening in the wine world right now. Garnacha/Grenache is a rising star on the wine world stage with no doubt, Eric and Sofia took a fairly unique approach on comparing the wines from both France and Spain. A majority of them were made from old vines, some with the age of 50-60 or even 90 years old; it was also enlightening to learn that the variety is arguably the most eco-friendly grape in the world due to its drought and disease resistant traits, and it can also hold strong winds. The deep dive into Garnacha/Grenache presented different, or even contrasting personalities from different terroir as well as how renowned producers interpret it.
Notably as well, this year Vinexpo had a seminar discussing a few trendy topics including how global warming impacts the vineyard and winemaking, the role that emerging technologies plays and women in the wine industry - urging us to ponder about how we can adapt better to the ever evolving world of wine.
Vinexpo New York 2019 has come to an end, but knowledge-sharing carries on. We were all gratified with great connections developed from this invaluable platform, had a better understanding on the nature of the business and learnt from each other. The organization already announced its 2020 dates - March 2 and 3, I look forward to more inspiring wines, topics and sessions, and hope to see you there next year!