One of my ultimate #lifegoals was to go to Vinexpo, the biggest wine event participated by different wine producers and buyers from all over the world.
I say “ultimate” because, having been around since 1981, this event has grown so large and has developed a massive network of participants that it is regarded as one of the best venues to learn about wines and spirits… From Bordeaux powerhouses, to obscure but ethereal Greek wines, to trendy whiskies and sakes.
That being said, when I was invited by my Hong Kong client Sun Shui Fung International to source wines for them (with allowances to go around and learn by myself), I was there. I consider Hong Kong my second home, and Vinexpo only happens in that part of the world every other year (alternating with Bordeaux for the other years). It’s too close (just an hour and a half away from Manila by plane), and I was sponsored a ticket… It would have been criminal to pass that up.
As I sat down and tried my best to summarize and turn my Vinexpo experience into digestible pieces, I realized that it was impossible… I had so many wonderful experiences in the event that I couldn’t fit it in one entry. So, I did what any non-writer would do: Organize, outline, and divide the entire piece into different parts.
Vinexpo Highlights Part 1 – Reunited with Drinks so Good
I knew that I’ve gone to a few wine expos prior to this one, plus a number of wine tours in different parts of the world… But I didn’t realise how many friends I’ve made, and how small the world actually is.
Here are some of the friends I’ve reunited with during the event:
Chateau Ste Michelle
I met (and bonded with) David Andrews about a year ago during an event held by Wine Depot. We hit it off with our mutual love of wine, and a casual (yet still professional, I promise!) approach to it.
I couldn’t help but pass by his booth and, after seeing that his signature triangular soul patch is alive and well, I decided to bend his ear a little bit.
Classic David (a popular fixture in events like these) had to run around and network, leaving me with bottles of Intrinsic lined up in a row.
I did what any normal woman would do in my situation: make an artsy shot by lining up three bottles in an effort to be artistic:
When David got back to me, I showed him the photo I took (which I immediately posted on the blog’s Instagram account). David then took off with my phone, looking for Brett Scallan, Vice President of Marketing.
I know it seems like the beginning of an article on mugging, but that’s one of the best things I appreciate about the people of Chateau Ste Michelle: There’s so much love, humour, stories, and attention to detail that it translates into their wines.
Take Intrinsic, for example. This gorgeous wine got its name for being the ultimate showcase of what “intrinsically” makes a Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes that went into Intrinsic enjoyed optimum conditions that allowed a beautiful, truthful illustration of its essence.
It also helped that at the helm of its winemaking process is multi-awarded Argentine winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca, who was inspired by street artists (and their ability to work with whatever environment they are dealt with to create works of art).
Newsflash: They’ve come up with a new wine called “The Pundit”. This Syrah is a perfect blend of the power and spice typical of a new world Syrah, but rounded out by an elegant, smooth texture… Absolutely unique. Also, who wouldn’t want a photo of this mysterious looking owl in their cellar?
I love the Executive Oenology Director of Cremaschi Furlotti, Christian Cremaschi. I initially met him for an interview (graciously set up by the Embassy of Chile in Manila), then saw him in a previous HKDTC event, then saw him again in this year’s Vinexpo.
Our friendship over the years has reached a point where we could sit down, talk about flights, the Philippine wine market, his experiences in Asia, and food.
All of these conversations, of course, were done over some of his best wines.
There were so many to choose from, but my two favourites were the Edición Limitada Carignan and the Edición Limitada de Familia. The Carignan is unusual… Admittedly, I had hesitations in trying out a predominantly Carignan red because normally, the grape is used for blending, and I’ve tried some from other wine makers that were incredibly off-balanced… So much so, that I promised myself never to write about them. Cremaschi Furlotti’s take, however, balanced it out with a little bit of power and a stronger texture, then anchored it with earthy, masculine, woody notes.
I was sold.
I really don’t need to talk about their Familia wines because it has won double medals in the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for Best Blend of the Show.
Cremaschi Furlotti has garnered multiple awards over the years for their Single Vineyard Carmenere, Vénere, and other wines… Unsuprisingly. Christian, after all, has fabulous taste.
G.H. Martell & Co.
I got an invitation to this year’s Vinexpo from Rodolphe Le Pesant, who I’ve met in 2014. He’s a very funny guy, and was always willing to let me practice my basic (occasionally horrendous) French on him.
His company, G.H. Martell, carries some of the most beautiful boutique Champagne I’ve ever tried. I was partial to the Château de Bligny Le Millesime, which “delightfully combines tropical fruit flavours that bring out all the sensuality of this unique champagne”, the even more unique Paul Louis Martin Le Bouzy Rouge – Millesime (made from 100% Pinot Noir… I’ve talked about the concept of Bouzy Rouge in a previous entry), and the funky bottled La Vielle line.
Quinta Das Apegadas
I met Cândida and António Amorin in my very first wine expo in 2013. I was going around the different Portuguese booths and I happened upon theirs, Quinta Das Apegadas.
After my usual opening line (“Can you please tell me about your wines?”), I was shown their lovely Touriga Nacional, a powerful rustic red typical of Portuguese wines.
A particular bottle caught my eye, however, displayed in a different, evidently more special way.
I had to ask them about it.
António said that they made a very special vintage in celebration of their 60th anniversary, which they called simply Apegadas D 60.
It was what I fully expected of an unshakeable, long-lasting relationship: A strong, comfortable, intense combination of 50% Touriga Nacional, and 50% of “the oldest vines from Quinta Velha”. I truly felt that their passion and love (for each other and the wines) were truly expressed in the bottle.
In fact, it was so good, that it ended up winning awards as well: A silver medal at Mundis Vini 2012 in Germany.
I had to get myself one, and I refused to get it for free.
Hey, support true love and good wine, yes?
So, yes, I may seem to have a fantastic relationship with wine, but I’d like to think that it’s easy enough to do with amazing people behind them.
On that note, part 2 featuring the people behind some of my favourite wines in a next article. Cheers!