Ξ February 24th, 2014 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Languedoc/Roussillon, Wine News |
Vinisud 2014, the world’s largest Mediterranean wine fair, got off to a roaring start this Monday. Traffic jams began well before the doors opened at 9 a.m. Stuck along a narrow street among a doubled ribbon of idling cars and trucks, I myself, Vinisud’s American Ambassador, was let off one of a series of buses packed with journalists, buyers, importers, you name it, to walk the remaining distance to the entrance. The acres-large parking lots of the Parc des Expositions outside of Montpellier, rapidly filled with the vehicles of winery representatives, winegrowers now off-loading their wines, merchants with their bulging attaché cases, sommeliers, importers, wine writers cradling computers, visiting dignitaries in well-pressed suits. From more than a two dozen countries they came, all making their way to the entrances.
As the day developed, the variety of languages I heard was astounding. Even in relatively quiet corners the soft tones of Mandarin could be heard. Yes, the Chinese are here too. Indeed, when out of kindness I held open yet another door onto to another expansive Exhibition Hall, it was an American voice which would give me pause. “I know that language”, I would think to myself so jarring was this brief moment of linguistic familiarity. Truly does this Vinisud event share the acoustics of the lunchroom at the United Nations. And I like it.
Badged up, ready to rock and roll, I hit the ground running.
By sheer numbers of participants alone, I’d have to say the international wine industry, certainly the sizable Mediterranean slice of it, is thriving and healthy. And this is for one reason: Value. Indeed, value is on the lips of everyone. And as those who have shopped wine stores or visited wineries in the south of France certainly know, it is the Languedoc in particular, which mother lode, that offers the finest price/quality ratio currently available anywhere. The diversity of wine styles, flavors, terroirs has no real rival, in my opinion. Perhaps only Spain approaches the QPR of wines commonly found here. So it is entirely fitting that Vinisud 2014 be held in this region’s capital. And the obstacle to greater international appreciation of the Languedoc boils down, in my view, to branding and therefore to greater international consumer recognition. For the average American wine drinker, for example, while they may recognize the names Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, they almost certainly will draw a bland with Saint Chinian, Pic Saint Loup, or Faugères.
Of course, Vinisud is about all Mediterranean wine-producing countries, including Crete, Sicily, Lebanon, Tunisia, Greece, Italy and others; and I plan to visit all of their representatives at their tables tomorrow. No doubt each country will make commercial advances; but for the sheer depth of French producers here, the Languedoc/Roussillon in particular, it is hard to resist celebrating, as I do now, the richness and competitive value of their wines on offer.
For a partial listing of events and activities here at Vinisud 2014, take a look at this.
Ken Payton, Admin