Quite a hectic first day at Vinexpo! Numbers were down apparently due to a clash with an exhibition in China at the weekend so many people are not travelling from China to Vinexpo. Looking at the dates it’s probably the Interwine China trade fair at Guangzhou which covers wine and spirits. Having said that Vinexpo certainly has generated a lot of interest with many Chinese clamouring for more wine knowledge and for the long awaited En Primeur price releases of the First Growths. Oddly enough the Irish were supposed to be showing at Vinexpo for the first time this year but their stand was empty!
Whether the lesser chateaux are going to attract much attention remains to be seen. Alain Vironneau, President of the Bordeaux Wine Council has said that “there are 100 to 150 million people in China who can afford to drink wine. It is these people, and not only millionaires, that we must reach.” The challenge is to explain to Chinese consumers that there are good wines at all prices and they’re not reserved just for the elite. At the opening ceremony of Vinexpo Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang explained that:
“Riding on the synergy created by Vinexpo, as many as four world-renowned auction houses are holding wine sales here in the last 10 days of May. Many more wine companies have set up or expanded their business in Hong Kong to tap the growing opportunities. Over 150 new companies have been established here since the duty exemption in 2008.”
A supplementary Trade Agreement between Bordeaux and Hong Kong was also signed today, adding new elements to their 2008 deal. The new promotion initiative is the pairing of wine with Asian food which capitalises on Hong Kong’s strength as a gourmet centre for the region. Another important area for further collaboration is the organisation of the Wine & Dine Festival in the autumns of 2010 and 2011, following the success of the first festival held last year on the West Kowloon waterfront. Hong Kong has also negotiated an Agreement with mainland Chinese Customs that would facilitate the movement of mainland-bound wines handled by Hong Kong companies.
In the evening I attended a wine tasting and dinner at the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant and introduced the Saint Emilion Grand Cru Chateau La Fleur Morange and its Second Wine, Mathilde along with Chateau Pessan, the white M de Malle and the Sauternes Chateau Sainte Hélène (Second Wine of the Second Growth Chateau de Malle). We had a really enjoyable evening and the guests were not only enthusiastic connoisseurs of fine wines but were great company. They were wowed by La Fleur Morange and could not understand why they had not encountered it before. The Sainte Hélène was much appreciated as the Semillon in the wine went extremely well with the sweet dessert – which was called Birthday Cake!
The food was delicious and I can’t understand why the Chinese can remain so fit and trim when they eat so much! The menu comprised of Roast Suckling Pig, Prawns with Garlic Tomato Sauce, Prawns with Soy, Sliced Squid with Vegetable, Seafood Roll with Avocado, Chicken Pot with Sharks Fin (soup), Steamed Tiger Grouper (fish), Stewed Abalone with Goose Palm, Crispy Chicken, Stewed Chinese Spaghetti, Grilled Chinese Cake and Seasonal Dessert (Birthday Cake). Abalone by the way is seafood – a type of edible sea snail and its shell is used as a source of Mother of Pearl.
The East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is a Hong Kong stalwart serving authentic Cantonese dishes and seasonal delicacies. It lies on the Harbour Road which runs alongside the famous Victoria Harbour where RMS Queen Elizabeth sank in 1972. Victoria Harbour is a natural harbour situated between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. The harbour’s deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on the South China Sea was instrumental in Hong Kong’s establishment as a British colony and its subsequent development as a trading centre. The RMS Queen Elizabeth was the largest ship in the world when it launched in 1938. It was retired 30 years later and subsequently purchased by Chinese shipping tycoon C.Y. Tung, who brought the ship to Hong Kong to be converted to a floating school called “Seawise University.”
The wreck was featured in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, starring Roger Moore as Bond and Christopher Lee as the villain, Scaramanga. The wreck was used as a covert headquarters for MI6. The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed in Macau, Kowloon, the mainland suburb of Hong Kong, Bangkok and on Khow-Ping-Kan, one of a chain of tiny jungle-covered limestone pillars in Phang Nga Bay at Phuket, on the tip of the Malay peninsula. The 007 films You Only Live Twice and Die Another Day also had film locations in Hong Kong.
James Bond has more links to Bordeaux than you might realise. His famous “shaken not stirred” Martini is made with the Bordeaux aperitif Lillet which nearly vanished into the mists of time until Bruno Borie (owner of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou) purchased the company in 1985! In Casino Royale Bond enjoyed a Chateau Angélus 1982!
I am off to the races after Day 2 of Vinexpo and I am really looking forward to it – and will keep you posted on the events!