The international bulk wine fraternity has descended onto Amsterdam for the largest annual exhibition of the commodity side of the wine trade.
A rise of 25% in registered visitors reflects the increased importance of bulk. This comes as no surprise. Judging at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition’s competition, however, indicated that the quality of the wines on offer are certainly also on an upward trajectory.
Four years ago, evaluating these wines for the first time was quite a different ballgame. Faults were frequent and elementary wines were the norm. This time round there were several wines that I wouldn’t mind buying in bulk for own consumption! The only wines that were sometimes questioned, were wines that were clearly blending components – most notably inky blending components that had not much more than colour to offer.
However, price is fundamental in this game and the talk in the isles are more often about the going rate than the best wine on show. As the name of the exhibition highlights, volumes are also a key consideration.
So what is South Africa’s unique selling point in Amsterdam? Compared to the giants of bulk, Spain, South Africa is a mere drop in the blending tank in terms of volume. When it comes to quality, big volume reds are certainly not our calling card. The south of France and particularly Chile are masters of that.
Our whites often have the edge – particularly in terms of Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc. Neither the Loire Valley nor Marlborough are well represented here and South Africa offers an attractive alternative. Many would argue that we are also quite competitive in terms of price and most notably value for money. This is true, but habitually a costly mistake.
Every year participants at the Amsterdam bulk junction confidently argue that they will not give away their wines. Let’s hope they stick to their guns this time round.