2024 Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris: The Report

The 5th Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris has turned the current economic challenges into strategic opportunities for the wine and spirits industry. This year, the event has established its credentials not only as a pivotal hub for business, but also as an influential platform, stepping up its decisive role in the business and political space globally.

2024 marks a turning point, with Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris making a sustainable economic contribution to the wine and spirits industry. Exhibitor numbers rose to 4,074, including 53% from overseas representing 48 producer countries, underscoring Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris’ enhanced appeal and international scope. Visitor attendance increased by 14% on the previous exhibition to 41,253 and included 41% international visitors from 137 countries, illustrating the event’s overall reach and growing influence.

Vinexposium’s commitment to business development was mirrored in the 30% rise in attendance by the main buyers from key markets. The top 5 nations represented after France were Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. The matchmaking service also reached a new performance milestone with 10,146 appointments between producers and buyers made online.

Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, a place of influence

Placed under the high patronage of Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris received visits by three French ministers and 27 ambassadors, including those from the United States, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, China, New Zealand and Australia.

The 2024 Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris opening ceremony saw keynote speeches by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Marc Fesneau, and the Minister of State for Public Accounts, Thomas Cazenave. The collaborative tone of the opening speeches, with input by Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse, highlighted the event’s role as a strategic space where the industry can speak with one voice, share ideas and meet current challenges while also setting its sights on a sustainable future. The significance of international trade and the collaborative efforts required to cope with geo-economic risks were also underscored.

A visit by Frank Riester, Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, ended the third day by describing the event as a major exhibition for wine and spirits exports, stressing the importance of wines and spirits to France’s export trade balance. 2023 French export results were in fact announced at Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris by the FEVS.

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), with which Vinexposium works collaboratively, granted its patronage to the scientific sessions of the ON! programme. The event also offered a valuable opportunity for OIV, which took part for the entire three days, to meet many international industry personalities.

Even greater buzz for the ON! and OFF programmes

The ON! programme was enhanced in order to foster dialogue and provide the industry with food for thought. 126 sessions featured on the official programme, in addition to individual presentations hosted on exhibitor stands.

Paul Robinson, wine director at Robinson Wine Merchants, recounts: “As a buyer, it is my responsibility to prioritise business appointments at Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, but I attended two panel discussions which I found extremely interesting. The ON! programme is one of the highlights of the exhibition”.

The OFF programme, which featured a selection of 200 restaurants and bars across the capital, encouraged attendees to continue their conversations after nightfall in a more relaxed setting.

Angelo Martelli, director at Super Buyrite, found inspiration there: “With so many appointments on stands by day, I particularly enjoyed being able to continue my business relations in the evening as part of the OFF programme. Paris truly is an ideal city for this and the selection was great. It’s that little extra that makes all the difference”.

Be Spirits, an enhanced range

In 2024, Be Spirits reached a whole new level with 26 producer countries exhibiting, an extra 47% floor spaced compared with 2023 and nearly 200 exhibitors, 54% of them new. Alongside the many French exhibitors, international attendee numbers soared by 92%.

The hall designed for spirits, no/lows, beers and ciders attracted buyers and mixologists from across the globe. The robust programme of debates and masterclasses aimed at deciphering markets, exploring the most revolutionary products and responding jointly to the business issues of the future attracted a full house.

Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris 2024 ends, but ushers in the next 12 months

Until the next Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris from 10 to 12 February 2025, the industry is invited to Hong Kong from 28 to 30 May for Vinexpo Asia, New York on 24 and 25 June for Vinexpo America, Mumbai on 16 and 17 September for Vinexpo India, and Amsterdam on 25 and 26 November for the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE).

Benvenuto Brunello 2023, Presenting the Iconic Elixir of Tuscany – Filippo Magnani

On November 28th wine enthusiasts and professionals in nine key cities worldwide gathered to celebrate Brunello Day. London, New York, Dallas, Miami, Toronto, Vancouver, Zurich, Shanghai, and Tokyo all raised their glasses in honor of Brunello di Montalcino, the iconic elixir of Tuscany. This celebration is in fact the culmination of a 10-day event called Benvenuto Brunello, organized by the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium. Although Brunello Day is just a couple years old, this was Benvenuto Brunello’s 32nd edition and marked the release of the 2018 and 2019 vintages represented by 118 producers and 310 labels. These wines were evaluated by 90 Italian and international journalists and trade professionals, several of which were hand-picked by the Vinitaly International Academy, now supported by the Brunello Consortium.

During the inaugural weekend the 2023 vintage was presented and the 32nd Leccio d’Oro prize was awarded to five restaurants and wine retailers with an exceptional list of Montalcino wines: Ristorante Veranda at the Hotel Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, The Sistina restaurant in New York, The Il Quadrifoglio in Asti, The Berry Bros. & Rudd in London and the Osteria Il Bargello in Siena which also owns the Salotto del Vino, a wine bar and shop with nearly 100 Montalcino wines served by the glass.

A Story of Visionaries – The Rise of Brunello

After almost 50 years since its DOCG status, Brunello di Montalcino wines continue to grow in popularity and gain market share worldwide. To truly understand why, one must delve into its intriguing history. Montalcino was a very important stop of the Via Francigena, a road that ran from England to Rome and, therefore, it welcomed and hosted important men of power, nobles, politicians and popes. The great wines of Montalcino were crafted to satisfy the illustrious visitors who were traveling to reach the Eternal City, and that’s why the hamlet has displayed absolute quality winemaking for centuries.

The modern success of Brunello di Montalcino started in the late 19th century and is intertwined with the vision and passion of a few key figures who recognized the potential of the Sangiovese grape in a unique terroir. One such visionary was Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, a winemaker from the Montalcino region who experimented with the Sangiovese grape, selecting superior clones and implementing innovative winemaking techniques. He was one of the first to introduce the practice of aging Brunello di Montalcino in large oak casks for an extended period.

This patient aging process proved to be the key to unlocking the full potential of the Sangiovese grape. Over time, the wine developed a deep, complex character with earthy aromas, intense dark fruit flavors, and an impressive ability to age gracefully. Biondi-Santi’s wines gained recognition and set the standard for what Brunello di Montalcino would become.

As the reputation of Biondi-Santi’s Brunello spread, other winemakers in the Montalcino region started to adopt similar winemaking practices. In 1966, Brunello di Montalcino was first recognized as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and in 1980 it was granted the highest classification in Italian wine, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). This prestigious recognition solidified Brunello di Montalcino’s status as one of Italy’s most exceptional and iconic wines.

The Sangiovese Grape – A Match Made in Montalcino

The secret behind the exceptional character of Brunello di Montalcino lies in its main grape variety – Sangiovese. This indigenous grape has been cultivated in Tuscany for centuries, and although it is Italy’s most widely planted black grape variety, many would agree that it finds its ultimate expression in the hilly vineyards of Montalcino.

The name “Sangiovese” is derived from the Latin words “sanguis Jovis” meaning “blood of Jove,” reflecting the grape’s deep red color. It is known by other names too such as Brunello and Sangiovese Grosso. The grape has a remarkable ability to express itself in a range of styles, from light and fruity to full-bodied and complex. Sangiovese is known for its distinctive aromas, lively acidity and tannic backbone. Closely associated with Sangiovese are fragrances of cherries – both fresh and dried – as well as ripe strawberries and plums that often intertwine with appealing herbal nuances like thyme, oregano, and sweet tobacco. This flavor profile captures beautifully the essence of the Tuscan terroir. Its vibrant and refreshing acidity preserves the wine’s balance, enhances its food pairing versatility and contributes to the wine’s aging potential, enabling it to develop complexity and maintain freshness over time.

Sangiovese wines often exhibit a pronounced tannic structure, delivering a firm and grippy texture that can be attributed to both the grape variety and the extended skin contact during fermentation. These tannins not only contribute to the wine’s structure but also bestow it with excellent aging potential. With time, the tannins soften, allowing the wine to evolve and develop greater complexity while retaining its inherent elegance. This is why the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG requires a minimum of 4 years aging, including 2 years in barrel and 4 months in bottle. The Riserva takes another year of aging which includes an additional 2 months in bottle.

The Terroir of Montalcino – A Sublime Expression of Complexity

The terroir of Montalcino is a tapestry of diverse microclimates, soils, and altitudes that contribute to the distinctive character of Brunello di Montalcino.
The vineyards of Montalcino are nestled on slopes and plateaus at varying elevations, ranging from 250 to 600 meters above sea level. This diverse topography results in different microclimates within the region, allowing winemakers the opportunity to express different facets of the Sangiovese grape.

The soils in Montalcino are rich and varied, giving Brunello di Montalcino its multifaceted personality. The northern region of Montalcino has soils dominated by limestone and shale, bringing finesse and elegance to the wines. In the central part, clay and marl prevail, imparting structure and depth. In the southern areas, volcanic soils contribute to wines with power and intensity.

The climate of Montalcino plays a crucial role in the ripening of the grapes. Summers are warm and dry, while winters are mild, providing the perfect balance of sun and rainfall. The significant diurnal temperature variation during the growing season helps to retain the grapes’ natural acidity, resulting in wines with vibrant freshness.

These factors, combined with the expertise and dedication of the winemakers, shape the flavor profile of Brunello di Montalcino. The wines are characterized by their remarkable complexity, intense aromas, lively acidity, and structured tannins that contribute to their exceptional aging potential.

Preserving Tradition, Embracing Innovation – The Future of Brunello di Montalcino

While rooted in centuries-old traditions, the producers of Brunello di Montalcino embrace innovation and strive for excellence in their winemaking practices. In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on sustainable viticulture and organic farming methods. Many wineries in Montalcino have adopted practices that respect the environment, ensuring a healthy balance between vineyard management and the preservation of the unique terroir. Over half of them are now certified organic.

Modern winemaking techniques have also allowed winemakers to refine their craftsmanship further. Advances in technology have made it possible to control temperature during fermentation, ensuring optimal extraction of aromas and flavors from the grapes. Precision in oak aging has also become a focus, allowing winemakers to strike a perfect balance between the fruit purity and the subtle influence of oak.

Experiences Around Montalcino – A Perfect Blend of Culture, Gastronomy, Wine, and History

For visitors and wine enthusiasts, a journey to Montalcino offers much more than just a tasting experience. Here, you can immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage, savor delicious culinary delights, explore the ancient history, and indulge in the stunning beauty of the Tuscan landscape.

For those with a passion for culture and history, a visit to the medieval fortress that overlooks Montalcino is a must. The fortress, known as the Rocca, offers panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards and the charming town below. Inside, the Museo Civico showcases archaeological finds and artifacts that tell the story of Montalcino’s past. The main street and square are lined with boutiques, restaurants and wine shops perfect for a day of shopping, eating and wine tasting.

Gastronomy connoisseurs will find themselves in heaven as they explore the local cuisine. The traditional dishes of Montalcino are a perfect pairing for Brunello di Montalcino, from hearty wild boar ragù to Pecorino cheese made from the milk of sheep that graze among the vines.
Many wineries in the area welcome visitors, offering guided tours of their vineyards and cellars. The winemakers take great pride in sharing their knowledge and passion, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the winemaking process and the philosophy behind their wines. And of course, the tastings of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino are an absolute highlight, immersing visitors in the flavors, aromas, and history of these exceptional wines.

For those who are captivated by the natural beauty of the region, a drive through the rolling hills of Montalcino is an enchanting experience. The vine-laden landscapes, dotted with rustic farmhouses and charming villages, create an idyllic setting that begs to be explored. Hiking and biking are great ways to fully appreciate the picturesque scenery and immerse yourself in the soul of this incredible region. In fact there are two famous events that take place every year here: the Brunello Crossing for walkers and hikers and L’Eroica for cyclists. Among other scenic landscapes, both will take you through Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage site that embodies the best of the Tuscan countryside.

In Conclusion

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is not just a wine; it is an embodiment of the passion, dedication, and the magic of the Montalcino terroir. The Sangiovese grape nurtured in this exceptional climate and soil produces wines of unrivaled elegance, complexity, and longevity. A visit to Montalcino is an opportunity to experience the rich heritage, indulge in the gastronomic delights, immerse yourself in the mesmerizing landscapes, and uncover the secrets of Brunello di Montalcino. With every sip, you will taste the rich history, feel the love and respect for the land, and be transported to the heart of Tuscany’s winemaking excellence. Cheers to a truly unforgettable wine experience!

“Ungrafted Vines” hits the silver screen in 2024

He’s a winemaker, a rebel, an iconoclast and an outspoken critic of Bordeaux’s “industrial soup” style of winemaking – and now Loïc Pasquet is an unlikely movie star.

Pasquet’s battles with the Bordeaux establishment have seen him dragged to court, fined and forbidden from using the Bordeaux appellation because of his commitment ungrafted vines and native Bordeaux varieties. However, he has had the sweetest of revenges by producing a wine that has become the most expensive Bordeaux-produced wine – and now a movie about his achievements is hitting the screen.

The 51-minute documentary will air via Apple TV next year and features Pasquet documenting his battles with bureaucracy and his dedication to recreating the pre-phylloxera wines of Bordeaux. It also features input from respected wine writers like Jane Anson and Jacky Rigaux.

Pasquet, who bought his first bottle of wine when he was just 11 years old, believes that wine is a European cultural treasure and that it has been debased by too many Bordeaux producers in order to pander to critics, rather than simply making wines that reflect the terroir.

“Why destroy that heritage to make one style of wine? They are saying to [wine critic Robert] Parker ‘What wine do you like? We will make it for you.’ They are making industrial soup,” he told journalists at a preview of the film.

The launch of Pasquet’s 2015 vintage of Liber Pater at a staggering $33,000 (subsequent vintages have also hit that mark) was the spark for the documentary, but he was open about his pricing policy.

“This is what my customers will pay to drink something that nobody else can. If you go into space, how much does it cost?”

He was referencing his wines being made from grapes grown on ungrafted vines, an anomaly in Bordeaux.

“If you try a Bordeaux from 1860 [before phylloxera prompted the grafting of vines onto disease-resistant rootstocks] and 1960 you can taste the difference. Grafting changes the chemical composition of the wine.”

Source: Wine Searcher

Four New Masters of Wine Inducted

The Institute of Masters of Wine has welcomed four new Masters of Wine to its membership at an awards ceremony yesterday at Vintners’ Hall in London.

The ceremony celebrated the inauguration of the new MWs and recognized individual excellence in areas of the MW examination. Some Masters of Wine from around the globe attended the event to welcome the new ‘MW vintage’.

The four new MWs inaugurated at Vintners’ Hall included, Wojciech Bońkowski MW (Poland), Joshua Grainer MW (United States), Erin Jolley MW (United States) and Andrea Lonardi MW (Italy).

Cathy van Zyl MW, Chair of the IMW said: “The official welcome of new MWs into the Institute is the highlight of our calendar. Not only because it takes each MW back to the day they joined the Institute but because, as a community, we celebrate the commitment, enthusiasm and study it takes to pass the examination; recognized the achievement of our new MWs; and show our respect for their achievement. Congratulations to Wojciech, Joshua, Erin and Andrea.”

Julian Gore-Booth, Executive Director of the IMW said: “We are delighted to welcome four new members to the MW family. They represent the pinnacle of excellence and achievement in the wine world and we are proud to have them with us.”

There are currently 414 Masters of Wine based in 31 different countries.

Announcing Liz Palmer is Guest Speaker at the 7th UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism

I’m so thrilled to have been invited as a guest speaker at the upcoming 7th UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism!!

The topics for the 7th Edition include “Inclusive, Sustainable and Digital Wine Tourism: Building Stronger Territorial Cohesion”

This yearly conference has become a leading international forum on trends, tools and opportunities to advance global wine tourism. It also provides opportunities for experts and professionals, as well as consolidated and emerging destinations in this tourism segment to exchange knowledge and experiences.

Since 2016, the Conference has highlighted the importance of wine tourism to the socio-economic development of destinations and has served as a platform to exchange experiences, identify good practices and promote wine tourism as a tool for sustainable development.

The 7th UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism will be held November 22 – 24 in Logroño, Spain. Participants include government officials from international and national tourism administrations and organizations, regional and local authorities, international and national destination marketing organizations, UNWTO affiliate members, private sector representatives, wine estates, infrastructure providers and international academia.

I believe everyone in the wine tourism industry can certainly attest to Massimo Garavaglia, Italian Minister of Tourism, statement at last year’s conference, in Alba Italy: “Wine tourism is much more than just selling wine, which clearly is important.  When you sell a bottle of wine, you are selling the territory behind that bottle, the culture of that territory, the history of the men (and women) who designed these landscapes with the rows of vines.”

I have the extreme privilege of sharing insights on the topic of:

Unlocking the Benefits of Digitalization
Digital transformation can revolutionize and enhance wine tourism experiences, provide data and insights, optimize marketing strategies, and foster sustainable growth.

Conference Link: https://www.unwto.org/7-UNWTO-Global-Conference-Wine-Tourism

Hope to see you there!

Liz Palmer