Vinexpo heads to Bordeaux – but all eyes will be on Asia

While the world's largest wine industry gathering is being prepared in the French city of Bordeaux, much of the attention at this year's event will be focused on trends emerging on the other side of the globe.

This year's Vinexpo will take place June 19-23, and organizers are expecting more than 2,400 exhibitors from across the globe to attend and more than 50,000 visitors.

And while the event is an opportunity for the world's winemakers to catch up, to market their wares and to chart a course for the industry's future, the incredible growth of wine usage in Asia over the past decade will ensure most conversations will lead back to exactly what has been going on "out East."

Such has been the rapid rise of wine consumption in China, for example, that the world's premier vineyards have been lining up to get their share of the market - and to get a foothold in the country as well.

Moet Hennessy is the latest to move into China, this month announcing plans to cultivate and produce high-end sparkling wine in the northwest Ningxia region. The luxury group LVMH - which owns the Moet Hennessy label - says that China is already its largest market for cognac and that its sales of champagne grew in double digits last year.

And China and Hong Kong together now make up the world's largest volume importer of Bordeaux wines - news that's no doubt music to the ears of winemakers preparing to head to Vinexpo.

Such has been the demand for vintages from the region that auction house Sotheby's claims that more than 70 percent of its total wine sales so far in 2011 have come from Hong Kong auctions alone.

"In 2011, it's not just China. The whole of Asia - Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand - is driving sales," a spokesman from Sotheby's told the China Daily newspaper.

A report published last year by International Wine and Spirit Research showed sales in China and Hong Kong jumped more than 100 percent between 2005 and 2009, from 46.9 million cases to 95.9 million cases. That figures is expected to increase by a further 20 percent to 2014.

Such has been the rise of the Asian wine market that Vinexpo now alternates years between Bordeaux and Hong Kong, with the next Vinexpo Asia-Pacific set for the that city over May 29-31, 2012.

http://www.vinexpo.com

MS

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