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Iberian Wines at Vinexpo Asia 2008 – A first hand account!

Vinexpo Asia

Editor’s Note: A few month’s ago, Edward Ragg of Dragon Phoenix Fine Wine Consulting in Beijing contacted us through Catavino to simply say “hello”, a gesture we always appreciate! With a little back and forth through emails over the course of a month, we slowly built a relationship, eventually asking Edward if he wouldn’t mind covering the Vinoexpo Asia event for us on Catavino. Lucky for us, he agreed and has provided us with two posts on the event, which I trust you’ll enjoy. Hopefully this does not end, and we look forward to more input from Edward as we move forward. For more detailed information on Edward, please check out our “about” page. If you want to be a Catavino correspondent we are still looking for individuals in the UK, and USA, who want to help round out the Catavino team. Just email us at: write{at}catavino{dot}net.ll

There was certainly a buzz in the humid Hong Kong air when some 700 wineries, trade bodies and other interested parties set up stall for this year’s Vinexpo Asia, held from 27th-29th May in Hong Kong’s massive Wan Chai Convention Center.

This bi-annual event, first started in 2006, was, of course, boosted this year with the news that the Hong Kong government has slashed import duty on wine. Some merchants have already adjusted prices on their stock, but we shouldn’t expect significant price changes until new wines arrive and not everyone will lower their prices commensurately.

Some commentators think Macau and even mainland China will follow suit. But mainland China is a totally different market from that of Hong Kong, Macau or, for that matter, Taiwan. Imported wine is only growing slowly, if steadily, in mainland China. Despite lowering taxes on imports since China joined the World Trade Organization, it is unlikely that there will be much of a ripple effect on tax reduction, at least as far as the PRC is concerned.

Many Hong Kongers are now shipping wines stored overseas back home, but Hong Kong itself has limited storage capacity. Crown Cellars and other storage providers are likely to see an increase in business as essentially no one has a home cellar in the city. Perhaps a Eurocave or two per wine lover, but space is obviously at a premium.

With several thousand visitors and multiple exhibitors, it was a little bewildering ascertaining where to start. So I was relieved to narrow my options down to Spain and Portugal, still managing to catch seminars on Alsace and Germany, visit most trade bodies and attend a sumptuous Sauternes dinner at Hong Kong’s famous Yung Kee restaurant.


With 79 stalls devoted to Spain itself and a handful to Portugal (largely the major Port producers), selection was still an issue. Fortunately, I got to attend two of the Spanish seminars led by educator and consultant Maria Antonia Fernandez-Daza. My notes on the Spanish whites and reds she presented are in separate posts here.

In the main hall, I spoke first with Llano Trenado of the Consulate General of Spain in Hong Kong. She invited me and my wife, Fongyee Walker, to a Spanish extravaganza at the Hong Kong Racecourse organized by the Spanish Wine Federation and Hong Kong Spanish Trade Commission (28th May). With superb canapés and a decent spread of wines, this was a great event. But most of the wines served were actually those also presented by Ms Fernandez-Daza in her seminars.

My first tasting stop was at Rioja producer Bodegas Roda with Sara Fernandez Bengoa. Roda is unusual in eschewing American oak, an attempt, in part, to get back to the essence of Tempranillo (Please click here to download a PDF of my full tasting notes):

  • 2004 Roda Rioja Reserva
  • 2004 Roda I Rioja Reserva
  • 2006 Cirsion
  • 2006 Altano Reserva, Douro
  • Maria Antonia Fernandez-Daza actually presented three seminars, one each on Cava, Spanish whites and Spanish reds. Having unfortunately missed the Cava class, I attended both the white and red seminars. Ms Fernandez-Daza recommended Wines of Spain as a useful source of info.

    Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2007 Pazo de Senorans Rias Baixas DO
  • 2007 Condesa de Eylo Rueda DO, Bodegas Val de la Vid
  • 2005 Vallegarcia Viognier, Pago de Vallegarcia
  • 2005 Milmanda Conca Barbera DO, Miguel Torres
  • NV Jean Leon Terrasola Muscat Cataluna DO
  • NV Mistela Moscatel de Turis Valencia DO, La Baronia de Turis
  • NV Nectar Pedro Ximenez Xerez DO, Gonzalez Byass
  • The second of the seminars presented by Maria Antonia Fernandez-Daza featuring a number of different Spanish reds.

    Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2007 Casa Gualda La Mancha DO, Co-op Ntra. Sra. de la Cabeza
  • 2005 Trapio Yecla DO, La Purisima
  • 2003 Baltasar Gracian Reserva Calatayud DO, Co-op San Alejandro
  • 2004 Roda I Rioja Reserva DOCa, Bodegas Roda
  • 2004 Felix Callejo Ribera del Duero DO
  • 2002 Vina Santa Marina Ribera del Guadiana DO
  • 2002 Senorio de Andion Navarra DO, Senorio de Andion
  • Cheers,


    Stay tuned as later this week Edward shares his take on the market for Iberian Wines in China.

    Click here to Download Edwards full tasting notes from Vinexpo Asia.

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