Coup de Froid à Angers
‘C’est sous la neige que le salon des Vins de Loire a ouvert ses portes lundi. Cette première journée du salon, habituellement jour clé, a été coupe d’environ 700 visiteurs. Les autres jours n’ont pas rattrapé ce retard. Le salon qui ferne ces portes ce soir, announce d’ores et déjà une baisse de frequentation qui devait être comprise entre 15 et 20%. Les conditions climatiques delicates, les conditions de circulations difficiles, ont surtout affecté les acheteurs CHR (café-hotel-restaurant) du grand-ouest ainsi qu’un petit nombre d’acheteurs étrangers de proximité (Belgique et Angelterre) qui fréquentent fidèlement le salon.’
There is no doubt that the freezing and snowy conditions had a considerable impact on the number of visitors at this year's Salon des Vins de Loire – the 25th edition. It is, however, far from the whole story. As widely predicted the failure of the various Salons-off and the Salon des Vins de Loire to coordinate their events and produce a coherent programme for visitors has proved disastrous. One has to hope this failure will not prove to be suicidal. (See my open letter to Loire organisers: December 2011).
Unfortunately each side blames the other for the week's gap this year between the Salons-Off (last weekend of January) and the Salon des Vins de Loire (6th-8th February. Over its 25 years the Salon start date has ranged between 29th January (1990) to 6th-8th February (2006 and 2012). This year the Salon might well have been better advised to opt for 30th January - 1st February as they did in 1995 and 2011. This would have produced a much more coherent programme for foreign visitors who could have started at Millésime Bio (23rd-25th January) then moved north for the various Salons-Off and stayed on for the 2012 Salon des Vins de Loire. This month also sees Vinisud in Montpellier – 20th-22nd. There were undoubtedly foreign visitors, for example Trevor Gulliver (HG Wines), a group of 20 American importers amongst them Louis Dressner Selections and Alice Feiring, who went to the various Salons-Off and then headed home before the Salon des Vins opened.
But this is all past and the essential now is that the various people organising these events stop sniping at and blaming each other and instead sit down and sort out a coherent programme for 2013. Otherwise the Loire and its producers will be the loser.
There is little time to lose for although some producers like the Vacherons (Sancerre) were happy with the quality of the people they had seen at the Salon they were other exhibitors who were disappointed and were wondering whether they would return next year or whether they wouldn't do better concentrating on fairs like Prowein. Don't wait – talk!
If there is a compelling and coherent programme for 2013, why the Salon might even manage to persuade a UK wine journalist with a column in one of our national papers to attend – the first time for at least 10 years.
The last morning of the Salon is always less busy than the first two days but yesterday mid-morning was particularly quiet