This week I found myself at the VinExpo biennale in Hong Kong. I hate these things – because I hate to talk to people about wine. However, I quite like drinking wine and to see what everyone is up to. I'm not sure whether attendance figures were up or down on previous years... I don't imagine we will ever know since the French were organising it.
It did seem less crowded than previous years and there were notably fewer promotional girls in skin-tight leotards or short dresses. I would guess that there was a complete absence of “Wanna buy a watch?” kind of Wine Speculators at the event. Perhaps as a result of the crack down on “Gifting” by the Chinese Government. This led me to contemplate a shift in the way producers are trying to attract business from the East.
To date, producers haven't really put much effort in when trying to sell wine to China – other than the girls in tight dresses. The current thinking “China wants to buy what we sell” is slowly changing to “We want to sell to China” and this means some brands have worked out there is even difference between Cantonese and Mandarin when it comes to back labels. A couple of years ago, the guys from Lafite wacked “八" the chinese character for 8 on bottles of their 2008 and everyone in the trade seemed to role their eyes and sigh as if they were above this kind of out and out marketing to Chinese Wine Buyers.
Well this week at Vinexpo the stands that followed Lafite's lead were the ones getting business!
Grace Vineyard the most famous Chinese Wine brand, was mobbed whilst 2 stands away Stephen Spurrier found himself chatting to a handful of people at the Decanter Stand.
Several Prosecco's have followed down Ace of Spade's path and gone with the bling packaging to varying degrees of success. However, in my opinion the guys closest to getting it right were the ones with the Orange McLaren, gold bars and bottles in oak boxes watched over by an enormous security guard.