Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Can the Salon des Vins de Loire survive?

Although the writing has been on the wall for a few years now, the 2014 Salon des Vins de Loire has really brought the future of the Salon into sharp focus. The empty aisles on Wednesday forced a number of producers to wonder whether the Salon will survive. The Salon is supposed to close at 18.00 on the Wednesday but by that time most of the exhibitors had packed up and departed.

(Photos taken late morning on Wednesday 5th February. The third day is always quieter but not as quiet as this.) 

Huet, Luneau, Marionnet, Redde, Taluaua-Foltzenlogel: 
normally one of the busiest stands at the Salon almost deserted.
For much of the 2014 edition possible to taste there in comfort

The provisional figures released at the end of the Salon on Wednesday claimed between 8500-9000 visitors for the 2014 edition with a slight increase on last year’s figures. It is very difficult to believe that these are unique visitors. Instead these are much more likely to be the total number of visits over the three days.

How long will exhibitors continue to pay 2000 euros for a small stand? Obviously you pay considerably more for a larger more substantial one. The third day at the Salon has always been quiet but this year Tuesday also seemed quiet. There were certainly some producers, who reported that this edition had been quiet and they had seen few people. Equally there were other producers, examples include Lionel Gosseaume (Touraine) and Stéphane and Carine Sérol, who were very positive about the contacts they had made during the Salon and the business done.

Some familiar names have already disappeared from the Salon. This year no Pierre-Jacques Druet (Bourgueil, Chinon), no Château de Tracy (Comte Henry d'Assay, Pouilly-Fumé), no Thomas Labaille (Sancerre), no Domaine de Bellivière (Christine and Eric Nicolas). Over the last few years producers like Domaine Champalou have decided that going to Prowein in Dusseldorf late March is more profitable than attending the Salon at the end of January.

Two difficult and short vintages along with the continuing economic difficulties have forced both producers and visitors to tighten their belts.

The first edition of the Salon des Vins de Loire was in 1987 and attracted a small number of producers mainly from Anjou with a few from Saumur. It soon became the essential annual date for Loire wines. Now in 2014 that position has been eroded. In part by the competing Salons Off, especially those like the Dive Bouteille (Saumur) and La Levée de Loire (Greniers de Saint Jean, Angers), which run on the Monday, the first day of the Salon. However, equally important the Salon has failed to evolve - it is stuck in a rut. For instance the website is poor with French the only proper language offered. There are other languages offered including English, simplified Chinese and Japanese but this relies on the strengths or vagaries of Google translate - the cheapskate solution!

Google Translate treats from Salon des Vins de Loire website:  

‘Stand naked :
We provide bare ground without partition (except joint stands) without carpet (with the possibility to control a) without banner or sign.’

 ‘register online to expose' – an attempt to attract the dirty mac brigade?

These two examples hardly give the impression that the Salon is professional! 

Quiet stands in the Amphitea 

It is clearly absurd that a number of organic producers hold La Levee de la Loire in the centre of Angers on the first day of the Salon which was held at the Parc des Expositions on the north east edge of the town. Time for both sides to stop blaming each other. Instead to set aside local politics and find a way of accommodating the organic producers at the Salon. 

It is in neither party’s interest to allow the Salon, which can be a wonderful showcase of Loire wines, to wither and die. No Salon and few visitors outside the immediate region will bother to attend La Levée de la Loire nor, probably the other Salons Off. Anecdotal reports suggest that La Levée was poorly attended this year. I enjoy going to the Renaissance tasting but wouldn't travel from London specially to go to Renaissance though I might well if I was in Touraine at the time.

The Salon needs a new impetus - a new sense of excitement. Further drift and delay could well be fatal. It would be a great shame if the Salon des Vins de Loire ceased to be viable and disappeared. 

The 2015 edition of the Salon (the 29th edition) runs from Monday 2nd February to Wednesday 4th February 2015. Let's hope this edition sees the start of a return to health. Ever optimistic I booked my hotel for 2015 before I left yesterday!  

 Ackerman stand


Hervé Lalau said...

Of course, Jim, if you stand naked to expose in the alleys, that may discourage some visitors…
Or attract others?

Jim Budd said...

Hervé. Do you think then that a flashers' event could be part of the solution?