The Men of Vinexpo, France’s Biannual Wine Bonanza

By Paige Donner

Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine

A biannual affair, France’s monumental, just-wrapped Vinexpo Bordeaux has, once again, firmly established itself as the world’s leading exhibition for the wine industry. A few numbers: there were approximately 50,000 attendees at the Bordeaux Convention Center; overall wine consumption between now and 2014 will reach a whopping 2.729 billion cases of wine, most of that light and sparkling; the US, China, and Russia are the countries primarily fueling this growth; in 2009 alone, this retail market already represented $389 billion. Indeed, people really enjoy knocking back a glass of the good stuff.

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While women buy more than half of the wine that ends up on your table, according to Wine Enthusiast, men still dominate the somewhat fusty, very-serious-despite-the-intoxication Vinexpo, which isn’t to say that there aren’t a slew of younger, more internationally-minded budding sommeliers to enliven the crowd. We spoke with 10 of the expos most insider-y insiders – from Baron Philippe de Rothschild to the Mayor of Bordeaux – to get the scoop on what’s new in the world of the vine.

Adrien Laurent, Baron Philippe de Rothschild 
Nevermind that three bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild sold not too long ago at Hong Kong’s Sotheby’s auction house for a record $232,692 – each!  Adrien Laurent, Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s U.S. and Mexico Export Manager, doesn’t rely on pretention when discussing his house’s eminent wines. In fact, if you can get him to talk about the history of the Rothschild family and how Baron Philippe turned Bordeaux’s wine world upside down back in the 1920s, when he was a mere 20 years old, you’ll really see the Oeno-lover take off his gloves.  I’m just praying that the taste of ‘98 Château Mouton Rothschild that he poured me (and that I spit out) won’t be something he remembers me by. “I never spit out Mouton Rothschild,” he confides. I must add, in the interest of full-disclosure, that he did graciously pour me another splash of this legendary cuvée, which I fully savored.

Pascal Boyé, Nicolas Feuillatte 
Boyé can be authentically described as a kind of dashing figure in a romantic novel. The French champagne executive lives in NYC, spends his weekends in Aspen, and takes business meetings in Epernay and Bordeaux. “We are the youngest of the big champagne houses,” he explains. Started a mere 36 years ago in Epernay, France, the heart of AOC Champagne, the house prides itself on its modernity. “We are the pyramid of the Louvre,” says Boyé. The number one champagne house in France is number 5 in the U.S. Within the next year, according to Mr. Pascal Boyé, Feuillatte’s North and South America Export Manager, the world’s third largest champagne house will move to the number four position in the U.S.’ 22 million bottle-a-year market.

Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux
There isn’t a resident in Bordeaux and its environs who doesn’t sing Mr. Juppe’s praises. He took over as Mayor of Bordeaux in 2006, and has since carried out remarkable beautification and restoration projects. The modern, efficient tram system that whisks you around the mid-sized city is another thing to write home about.

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