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05.01.2004

Report from the World Wine Market Tasting: Disappointed

And I thought Rhone Rangers was a little rough this year....

I was sorely disappointed by my first visit to the World Wine Market Tasting today at Fort Mason, and would be even more upset had I actually paid the $45 going rate for a ticket. While having a press pass prevented me from feeling ripped off, I certainly couldn't avoid feeling like I had stumbled into a convention for desperate third rate international wineries looking for distributors in the US.

Now that's a little harsh, I know, but there was a lot of awful wine being poured today, and more than a few of them had "Looking for Distribution" signs on their tables. Additionally there was also a lot of wine NOT being poured. For an event that billed itself as representing the international flavors of wine, where were Spain, Italy, that little country called France, and uh, how about some US producers, too ? In retrospect I see that the conspicuous absence of almost all the decent small producers of wine from Sonoma and Napa (with the notable exceptions of Von Strasser and Rosenblum who both seemed a little lost and despondent amidst the sea of mediocrity) was a sign of something.

So was there anything good there ? A few, though even some of the award winners I found lacking. However, as most of the wines were on the low end of the price scale, the decent ones represent some great values.

Notable Red Wines:
2002 Rosenblum Feather Footman Jingu Shiraz. $22. Score: 9
2002 Rosenblum Holbrook Mitchell Trio Blend. $34. Score: 9
2002 Don Crostobal "1492" Sangiovese, Cosecha, Argentina. $10. Score: 8.5
1999 Leonetti Amarone Della Valpolicella, Italy. $??. Score: 8.5
2000 Von Strasser "Sori Bricco" Meritage, Napa. $55. Score: 8.5/9

Notable White Wines
2002 Le Vaglie Verdiccio, Santa Barbara, Italy. $12. Score: 8.5/9
2003 Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa. $12. Score: 8.5/9
2001 Hunters Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. $16. Score: 8.5
2002 Huber "Ven der Terassen" Reisling, Germany. $23. Score: 8/8.5

And that was about it. I tasted probably 40 to 50 other wines, most of which were not really worth mentioning. Oh well, the worst day wine tasting is still better than a lot of other things.

Comments (4)

enoch choi wrote:
05.02.04 at 1:20 AM

darn. they weren't pouring Rosenblum Feather Footman Jingu Shiraz or Holbrook Mitchell Trio Blend when i visited. And they ran out of Von Strasser "Sori Bricco" Meritage before i got to the table. did you get a chance to try the cheeses from that NY fromagerie? i picked up some gouda and truffle cheese. The chinese wine was interesting, never had a mainland chinese wine before. They were serving with foie gras which was yummy.

Alder wrote:
05.02.04 at 9:52 AM

It seems from Enoch's comments that the event varied significantly from day to day. There was no cheese merchant selling on Saturday, nor was there Foies Gras in the offing. I shied away from the Chinese wine, but I probably should have just tried it.

07.01.05 at 10:04 AM

In defense of World Wine Market... I can assure you that a MAJOR outreach was made to ALL CALIFORNIA wineries to exhibit at WWM in 2004. Especially NAPA and SONOMA wineries. I know that because I worked at WWM from December 2003 to May 2004, personally calling and e-mailing on all these wineries asking them to exhibit.

Gerard Parker, the show organizer and CEO chose to keep the show's location in San Francisco to give ALL CALIFORNIA WINERIES the "Home Field Advantage".

Show Cost: $1,400 for a Full Size Table - all 3 days, everything included. Smaller budget conscious wineries even had the option of sharing a table for $800.00 for all 3 days.

Compared to the costs of a sales rep or even a few sales reps, traveling to outside markets, cost of being away from the winery for days at a time (drop in productivity) and cost of approaching just one or two prospects at a time, WWM was a bargain!.. Too many CALIFORNIA wineries didn't see that.

It was NOT WWM's fault that all CA wineries didn't see the value of EXHIBITING in an International Wine Trade Show that was taking place RIGHT IN THEIR BACKYARD!

Inevitably, a more positive response from all the CALIFORNIA wineries (in the form of exhibiting contracts) would have increased the number of attendees and improved the quality of attendance to WWM.

Had the show remained afloat (WWM was closed down in late 2004) it was Gerard's desire to completely do away with the CONSUMER tasting day because in his eyes (and in mine and many others), WWM was a TRADE show, not a consumer show, and the majority of consumers who attend wine tasting shows go to these events to have fun and drink their entrance tickets fees' worth... and this translates in very little quantifying value to the winery. I can tell you that most of the wineries who exhibited at WWM and who saw the value of a TRADE-ONLY show begged to NOT participate in the CONSUMER day. They only stayed because SOME trade walked through the show on that day.

Foreign Wineries from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and most other show participants who knew how to "work a show" like WWM did very well because of WWM's exposure.

I will admit that the 2004 show lacked of many different things - one of which was attendance (partially caused by competing show dates from WSWA in Las Vegas) and participation from groups like ITALY and SPAIN - who had booked a total of 40 tables, and pulled out at the last minute to exhibit at some Gourmet Show in Chicago, despite the complaints from the wineries who had done very well in previous years at WWM - these groups were all government subsidised, so wineries didn't have the final say.

Additionally, the 2004 show had a very late start (Outreach started in December 03) and was underfunded and quasi left-to-die by foreign investors who didn't feel compelled to put in the necessary amount of energy and dedication for a show that offered so much to its exhibitors and attendees alike.

World Wine Market was a great show... but just like anything or anyone else, when you're on your dying bed, exhaling your last breath, nothing looks really pretty.

Clarke L. Smith
former VP of Sales & Marketing
World Wine Market, LLC

Alder wrote:
07.01.05 at 4:17 PM

Clarke,

Thanks very much for your detailed comments. Nice to know a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes.

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