The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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ness. We're all pros, on both sides, just a bunch of commit- ted wine people exchanging ideas and proposals." Brand aggregators, who represent multiple brands often regional or national in character, also flocked to the WWM. Aymeric Doron of France's Bord'O Vins Fins loves the speed-dating nature of this sort of meeting, "because it is always best to discuss wine over a glass." Doron reported being ultra-busy with more than 20 appointments that day, each lasting between 20 and 40 minutes. Another aggrega- tor's representative, Enrico Zonin of Italy's Fattoria Il Palagio, believed that tacking his portfolio onto a mainly French conference could only benefit his wines. "There is an oppor- tunity to stand out by facing less competition. But regardless of origin, we believe that $10 to $20 bottles will dominate the future, and we are well prepared to ride that wave." Saturday morning's kickoff rosé tasting featured Bordeaux, the primary region represented. Lunch then preceded an afternoon of exhibitor-buyer meetings, much like speed dates, as previously mentioned, but perhaps a bit more about the wine. Saturday evening's lake-cruising din- ner aboard the good ship Odyssey departed from the city's historic Navy pier and included bottles from several regions. Sunday dawned a bit misty (typical Chicago spring weather) but more meetings and a seminar on the new Côtes de Bordeaux appellation led to a lunch that presented wines from all over Europe. That afternoon was dedicated to more meetings, followed by a "Planet Bordeaux Rocks!" party. Finally, a Rioja-themed dinner featured the wines of that august Spanish region. Aymeric Doron of France's Bord'O Vins Fins loves the speed-dating nature of this sort of meeting, "because it is always best to discuss wine over a glass." Monday morning: more meetings. The final event of the convention, a tasting exhibition, featured wares from each of the exhibitors. It was a kaleidoscope of colors, aromas and flavors clearly enjoyed by all attendees, almost all of whom were earnest, hardworking and young—a seemingly requisite characteristic of life in the trenches of the whole- sale wine world. Wholesalers paid only a €70 fee to attend, with additional expenses reimbursed up to $400. For Cameron Henderson of Cordova Imports in Boulder, Colorado, the small cost was worth it. "We definitely found some wines that excited us. Next step is to get some samples in from the wineries that we liked so that we can taste them again and plan an attack." Henderson hopes to have the samples in his hands by late June or early July, which would allow distribution in time for the winter holidays. Champagne's Maxime Blin. The bottom line for the WWM is that U.S. importers are always looking for good European wines, particularly from France. "Our relationship as countries goes back more than two hundred years," says Adhesion Group's Censier, "but it's more than that. The exchange rate is excellent for you now. Consumption is growing each year, and there are many good wines from Europe that don't cost an arm and a leg. In the current economy, that matters." But Censier also knows that the WWM's success depends on sales bumps after the show. "We always need good buy- ers to make the concept work." july 2012 / the tasting panel / 91

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