9 Nov 2011
Happy Hour in Hong Kong
Piedmont-based winery Boroli was among the more than 200 Italian exhibitors at this year’s HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine Fair
Friuliano, Sangiovese, Montepulciano were on the lips of many trade visitors sampling the fruit of some of Italy’s finest vintage, as the country’s rich wine culture took centre stage at this year’s HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair, 3-5 November. With more than 200 exhibitors, Italy put together the fair’s largest group pavilion.
“We’re thrilled to have assembled a vast array of top Italian wine producers from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Puglia, Barolo, Barbaresco, Sicily and Marche,” said Stevie Kim, General Coordinator of Vinitaly International, which organised the pavilion. “Our mission is to have people fall in love with Italian wine.”
“Asia is one of the most interesting markets because there’s room to build the brand and consumer awareness,” said Marco Griglio, Export Manager for Boroli. “What’s in the bottle is only one thing that’s important. What’s behind the bottle – history, tradition, heritage – this is something Italian wine has.”
While Italian wine producers are relative late movers in Asia, Mr Griglio is undaunted by the dominance of French wine in China. “It’s a pattern that repeats itself. Generally in new markets, the French producers are the first ones to arrive. Italian wine is better value for money.” The key, he said, is educating new consumers about the country’s wide grape selection.
Marco Griglio, Export Manager, Boroli
Investing in Wine
A record 934 exhibitors from 37 countries and regions took part in the fair, which is now Asia’s biggest wine show in exhibitor numbers. The level of interest also attests to the growth of the local wine industry since the Hong Kong Government scrapped wine duties in 2008.
Milanese chef Gustano Simonato takes part in an Italian wine-pairing cooking demonstration as part of the Vinitaly Pavilion
“Our wine auctions have also flourished. According to industry figures, Hong Kong firmly established itself as one of the top three wine-auction centres in the world in 2010,” Mr Chan said.
To cater to that fast-growing sector, a Wine Investment Zone debuted at this year’s fair, with industry leaders such as Acker Merrall & Condit, the biggest auction house in the United States, Liv-Ex, the world’s only online wine-trading business, and Octavian, the world’s largest wine cellar, exhibiting at the new zone.
Taste of Germany
The German Wine Institute launched its guide to German wine and Asian food at the fair. Written by Asia’s first Master of Wine, Jeannie Cho Lee, Perfect Pairings: German Wines and Asian Flavours marries German wine with various Asian cuisines.
This bottle of Dupuy 1940 cognac, valued at more than US$14,000, was featured at the fair by Hong Kong’s Branded Spirits Ltd
For now, French wine is still the one to beat in China. Leading the contingent is French wine consultancy Bettane and Desseauve. Founders Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve’s Le Grand Tasting returned to the fair for the third year running, with 92 mostly French exhibitors, more than triple the number of companies they brought the first year. “As the wine fair grows, we grow,” said Mr Desseauve.
French wine critics Michel Betttane and Thierry Desseauve believe it won’t be long before China starts building a thriving wine industry
"The Chinese palate likes balance, harmony and drinkability. It's the European pattern that is the best solution for China, but with some Chinese elements coming from the light, the soil, the people and also the needs of the cooking."
They said that it won’t take long for China to build its own thriving industry.
“We did it in 400 years; California producers did it in 50 years,” Mr Desseauve added. “You will do it in 20 years, maybe 15.”