Group sommelier Miguel Chan heads to Vinexpo

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Tsogo Sun’s group sommelier, Miguel Chan, has been selected to participate in an prestigious set of debates and panel discussion at Vinexpo 2015 in Bordeaux. The attendees gathering at Vinexpo 2015 will celebrate the wines of the world, their individual varietals and great wines coming out of emerging markets. Estate owners, winemakers, sommeliers and major decision-makers will all be present.

What will you be discussing Vinexpo and why is it important?

First of all let me explain what Vinexpo is and why it is important to the wine world: Vinexpo was created in 1981, the exhibition has established itself over the years as the key event for major international operators in the wine and spirits sector and is one of the largest wine conference, expo and events in Europe, historically alternating between Bordeaux, France (the headquarters) and Hong Kong, one of the two leading wine capitals of the world with major wine influencers / buyers.

In 2013, the global wines and spirits industry – of which Vinexpo’s exhibitors are a part – was worth US$ 420 billion. The market remains buoyant, with global consumption continually rising, but there are sharp contrasts. It is a changing picture, and there are many uncertainties. The show is a catalyst for international business with 48,000 trade visitors from 150 countries at the Bordeaux show and 18,000 Asian buyers in Hong Kong. On the exhibitor front, the number and diversity of nationalities confirm the show’s planetary reach, its key role as a meeting place for the sector, and its leadership.

The main reason of my visit to Vinexpo  is I have been invited by the organisers to be one of the speakers representing of course Tsogo Sun, as the leading hotel group on the African continent, and to talk of my 12 years experience working as a sommelier in South Africa and depict the wine market evolutions. I will be join by a select panel complimenting each other based on our experience and field of expertise. The theme of the talk is Africa: The New China? or Is Africa: The Future Destination for Wines and Spirits?

It is the first time ever Africa will be a topic of discussions regarding the wine and spirits world

The conference will take place on Wednesday June 17th from 10 AM to 11.30 AM. It is scheduled at Palais des Congrès, in Bordeaux and will star speakers with different backgrounds and complementary experiences of the African market, such as Pierre Castel – President and Founder of the Castel Group , Dan Mettyear – IWSR’s Africa Specialist and Pierre De Gaétan Njikam Mouliom, Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux, in charge of partnerships with sub-Saharan Africa.

The African wine and spirits market is possibly one of the most intricate in the world, complicated, informal and often murky business environment devoid of reliable market information, tracking and identifying such opportunities for growth is demanding to say the least, the current economic indicators suggest Africa could well possibly be the next China in term of appreciation and purchase of wines and spirits, China was there 12 years ago and consumer spending in Africa is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020.

More and more Africans are enjoying genuine disposable income for the first time. Improving economic and political conditions, significant outside investment and a better internal organisational structure have meant that Africa’s key markets now present one of the world’s biggest opportunities for medium- and long-term growth

How does South African wine fare against the wine of other regions and how is this changing?

South African wines have made major quality stride, there has been a finessing of style, with greater emphasis on purity of fruit, freshness and tannin management in reds, the wines today, i. e of the last five years, are way better than what have been produced from the period prior to 2009. What we are seeing today are is that the top end wines are on a par, if not better at times, with classic wine regions of Europe, California, South America, Australia and New Zealand.

There is a new generation of young winemakers, coaxing a style that best represents the site and vintage expression and finally we are seeing wines with less obtrusive oak influence and this gives the end product a brighter identity.

It is an exciting time currently in the South African wine industry, the world’s most influential wine writers and knowledgeable sommeliers from around the world are starting to take note of the delicacies and cutting edge wines being produced in the fairest Cape.

We are seeing greater support either by the curated presence of leading wineries in specialist wine shops around the world or on many tables around the world’s best food and beverage destinations.

We are seeing more and more positive reviews about the industry, predominantly from internationally respected wine publications such as Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, La Revue du Vin de France and Decanter to name a few on a monthly basis, with exceptionally high scores with many wines regularly scoring over 90 points on the 100 points scale system. This is unheard of and means South Africa has ‘arrived’ and many world class wines are being produced in the Cape at a fraction of the global average price with similar ratings.

What are you most looking forward to at Vinexpo?

Besides the conference, I am also looking forward to the seminars as well as specific benchmark tasting masterclass, presented by leading authorities of the wine world. I have a full schedule starting from Sunday 14th June, all the way until the 18th, for roughly 13 hours daily, so it will be a lot of learning about the current state of the global wine industry.

Upon return, I am confident I will be able to present and discuss innovative wine ideas with the Tsogo Sun food and beverage team, as well as sharing trends in order to lay the foundation for the next 5 years of wine developments. This will assist us in maintaining our leadership position in the industry, with the ongoing refinement of our wine standards.

What message do you hope to convey to attendees of Vinexpo?

The message I hope to convey to the wine world during Vinexpo is to get out there and start engaging with the African consumers, via tastings, wine shows, training to sommeliers and F&B Managers, as well as retail buyers.

We are at a turning point in the industry, South Africa is fast emerging as one of the most dynamic wines and spirits market in the world. Besides the daily challenges which are rather unique, when compared to the rest of the world (i.e logistics, language, food culture and ethnicity), the new generations of young Africans are keen to learn more and are rather adventurous about the great wines and spirits of the world and choose to experience these as part of their lifestyle.

My final message to the attendees, is to focus at the positivity of the market and the rather untapped potential, because as knowledge and appreciation grows, so does consumption and prices.