In recent years one of the biggest exhibition of wines and spirits has often become subject to criticism from the side of the experts. In their opinion Vinexpo faces the biggest challenge to diversify the event, which is mainly focused on presentation of the regions of France. New chief executive of the exhibition Guillaume Deglise also agrees that exhibition is in need of modernization. New management promised to make Vinexpo 2015 more sophisticated in terms of infrastructure, to concentrate less on the French regions and in general create a turning point in the 34 year history of the exhibition. And indeed, Vinexpo 2015 proved to become a quite interactive and representative event with presentations of wines from Mexico, Georgia, England, vodka from Ukraine, Rum from Martinique, Pisco from Peru, Whiskey from Japan.
Since exhibitions of this scale usually direct their efforts towards establishment of images of separate participants, Georgia decided to concentrate on raising awareness about local winemaking experiences and presented them under an umbrella of one brand. The major key messages from this year were: 8,000 harvests, Qvevri wines, tradition and modernity, Saperavi wine and most importantly Georgia as a homeland of wine.
Georgian booth united the following companies: Shumi, Chateau Mukhrani, Tbilvino, Besini, Kakhuri, Telavi Wine Cellar, GWS, Askaneli Brothers, Geowine, Vaziani, Chelti and Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking. Winery Khareba presented its wines independently from the others. During organization of Vinexpo 2015 Georgian Sommelier Association was official partner of the National Wine Agency.
It was of utmost importance for Georgia that in the frames of the exhibition its wines were presented to the professionals of the field by high scale international experts: advisor to the editor of the magazine Decanter and the head of the jury of the Decanter competition, the veteran wine critic from the UK Steven Spurrier, British wine expert and writer Robert Joseph, Master of Wine from the USA Lisa Granik, the Best Sommelier of the World and Europe Paolo Basso. The influential experts of the wine world conducted special wine-tastings where they made professionals familiar with the history of winemaking and its modern practices in Georgia.
One of the main messages of Robert Joseph’s and Lisa Granik’s wine-tastings stated that Georgia is important not only because of the history of winemaking but uninterrupted tradition of its production as well. The goal of the events was to popularize diversity of the Georgian types of vines.
“When we talk about 525 types of vine and present Rkatsiteli and Saperavi only, this can be considered a drawback for a country”, - says Tata Jaiani, Communications and Business Development Manager of the Georgian Wine Association. And indeed, the mentioned wine tastings were special in terms of presenting a wide range of titles.
During the wine-tasting “Georgian Wine – Promises and Paradoxes”, which took place on June 14, Lisa Granik made the audience familiar with the following products: Tsinandali (Besini), Tsitska (KTW), Rkatsiteli (Qvevri, Tbilvino), Saperavi (Qvevri, Alaverdi Monastery) and Otskhanuri Sapere (Qvevri, Winery Khareba).
On June 15 presentation of Georgian wines was continued by Robert Joseph. At the event called “Georgian Wine – Ancient and Modern” the audience had a chance to learn about the following wines: Goruli Mtsvane (Chateau Mukhrani), Tvishi (GWS), Rkatsiteli (Qvevri, Alaverdi Monastery), Saperavi (Qvevri, Alaverdi Monastery, Iberiuli, Shumi).
The third wine-tasting was scheduled for June 16 when wine professionals and representatives of the wine media had an opportunity to attend Paolo Basso’s and Shalva Khetsuriani’s guided tour through Tsinandali Iberiuli 2013 (Shumi), Vinoterra Kisi 2012 (Schuchmann Wines Georgia), Saperavi Rose 2012 (KTW), Shavkapito 2013 (Chateau Mukhrani), Otskhanuri Sapere 2012 (Winery Khareba), Saperavi Satrapezo 2012 (Telavi Wine Cellar), Khvanchkara (Tbilvino) and Kindzmarauli Tamada 2013 (GWS).
Georgian wine-tastings at the Vinexpo were organized as a campaign, which pursued the goal to raise awareness about the local winemaking experiences. Along with the National Wine Agency events were co-organized by the Georgian Sommelier Association and the Georgian Wine Association. According to the President of the Georgian Sommelier Association Shalva Khetsuriani the workshops were attended by numerous famous experts, some of which visited the stand on their own initiative. Among them were established French enologist Stéphane Derenoncourt, George Earle and the others. It has to be noted that wines, which were presented during the workshops did not belong to the premium category only.
Vinexpo traditionally welcomed a yearly assembly of International Association of Sommeliers. Georgia was represented by the Georgian Sommelier Association. According to Shalva Khetsuriani assembly made a decision of special importance: Georgia is to become a host country of the assembly in 2018.
Similar to the other large-scale events in parallel to official program Vinexpo also covered some unofficial events, which weren’t of less importance. This year these were Wine Mozaic and The Blend that were attended by numerous large importers and journalists. The Blend offered the visitors of the exhibition a chance to enjoy jazz music at the lounge bar and in parallel taste a wide range of wines of different types: Riesling from Alsace, Pinot, Georgian Saperavi, Rkatsiteli etc. This year Georgia was among five host countries of The Blend together with France, Italy, USA and Spain.
President of the Georgian Wine Club Malkhaz Kharbedia says: “Vinexpo in Bordeaux was very important in terms of establishment of the image of Georgian wines. Especially if we take into account the fact that they were presented by famous wine experts, such as Steven Spurrier, Lisa Granik and Robert Joseph. Famous wine writer Oz Clarke spent substantial period of time at our booth and even took with him the last edition of the Georgian Wine Guide. This year Georgian booth presented 12 companies. However it would be good to organize (in Dusseldorf, London and Bordeaux) so called winetasting panels where in parallel to the officially participating companies the small-scale wine cellars will also be given the opportunity to present their special production. This is already an approved general practice. For example, you can see separate winetasting lines next to the stands of Loire, Chile or Rhône and get familiar with more than dozen of different wines from the cellars, which are not otherwise present at the exhibition. I believe, it would be good to arrange similar representative winetasting counters for the Qvevri wines as well.“
Debut of the brand “Georgian Wine” coincided with the process of modernization of Vinexpo, which promises its future visitors significant technical and conceptual novelties. According to Deglise new governing council is open towards critique from the side of the experts and will take into account their feedback during planning of the next events. At this very moment it is important for Georgian wines to occupy their niche in the history of the exhibition and transform the recourses into messages that are directed towards their introduction into the world of wine.
© Georgian Wine Club, Wine Information Center.