China Falls in Love with Vinitaly’s Italian Wines at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2011

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The Vinitaly World Tour 2011 made its final stop in China at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair where it was the partner country of this year’s edition with 200 Italian wineries present. Asia’s largest Wine Fair, was well attended by close to 40,000 trade and public visitors, from 37 countries (a soaring increase of 40 % compared with the last edition).

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G. Mantovani, CEO Veronafiere, "It was essential to give an important signal to the Chinese market, destined to become within a few years, #1 in the wine world. More must be done for consumer education, and in this sense Vinitaly has greatly contributed."

Pre kick-off events started the day before the fair on November 2nd with a Chinese media press tour to the Vinitaly pavilion, where they were taken through a voyage on the wine continent “Italy” meandering through the Italian wine regions, represented by the 10 must-try Italian wines: Schiopetto, Planeta, Novelli, Velenosi, Ferrari, Banfi, Produttori Cormons, Due Palme, Scarzello and Renato Ratti, selected and presented by Luca Gardini, Best Sommelier of the world 2010.

Following this extraordinary wine trail, the “Vinitaly Wine Affair” continued at Restaurant Zelo in Pacific Place mall, where an exclusive consumer event previewed the hottest Italian wines in Hong Kong. Guests sampled more than 90 wines from top Italian producers paired with authentic delicacies from Michelin-Star-awarded Italian chefs. Allegrini, Sartori, Zonin, Banfi, Ferrari, Santa Margherita, Marchesi di Barolo, Medici Ermete, Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve, Terredora, Villa Rubini were just some of the names that lured visitors with the Gusto Italiano.

November 3rd highlights were the official inauguration of the HKIWSF and the Gala Dinner. At the inauguration, a delegation of VIPs led by Guest of Honour, Professor the Hon K C Chan, SBS, JP, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Alessandra Schiavo, Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong and Giovanni Mantovani, CEO Veronafiere, were welcomed by 10 Chinese baby chefs, holding little UNA bottle flags with the names of Italy’s 20 regions and the IT Chefs, for a welcome drink and aperitivo at the Vinitaly Pavilion. This was followed by a special presentation & Tasting of UNA for journalists, guided by Luca Gardini. The day concluded with a sumptuous Gala Dinner, where 475 VIP guests wined and dined on food prepared by Italian Michelin star chefs: Luca Collami, Marco Sacco, Mario Caramella and Sergio Vineis. Wines were served by Ferrari, Santa Margherita, Allegrini, Banfi, Zonin, GIV and Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve. HKTDC admits that “It was the best Gala Dinner they had ever had”.

November 4th, saw the inauguration of the Vinitaly Pavilion and a new initiative, “Amici del Vinitaly” awarding Hong Kong’s top 10 importers of Italian wines: Abrate & Sons, Sino Vantage Asia, Summergate Fine Wines, Casamia Liquid Assets, Watson’s Wine, Valdivia, ASC Fine Wines, Gin Gallery and Cinzia Maini, were all present at the Vinitaly Tasting Room to receive their honorary plaque followed by a Q&A with Italian producers. Questions on how Italian wineries can find an importer in HK and China, what Italy as a whole can do to improve its position in the Chinese market of which it currently only holds 2.2% of all imports and other invaluable information was shared with the producers.

The Italian presence at the event was compact and easily identifiable, with special areas such as a tasting room, a cooking amphitheater with demonstrations by Italian Michelin starred chefs, a wine bar and information point, which all contributed to attract the attention of traders, buyers and UNA, Italy’s 150th anniversary of unification, commemorative bottle. "Our objective was to render the Italian Wine area accessible, approachable and fun. We wanted each single attendee to fall in love with Italian wines the way they already have with Italian cuisine” according to Stevie Kim, General Coordinator of Vinitaly in the World

"The overall picture was largely positive from all points of view," said Giovanni Mantovani, CEO Veronafiere, "It was essential to give an important signal to the Chinese market, destined to become within a few years, number one in the wine world. More must be done from the point of view of consumer education, and in this sense Vinitaly has greatly contributed. “It was a great team effort to showcase such an engaging area but in the end it was worth it,” concludes Stevie Kim.

What is important now is to continue the efforts of Vinitaly, that displayed the unity of Italian winemakers which grabbed the attention of the Chinese press, as was shown through the numerous articles that they were wrote on Vinitaly and by interested local consumers, who have shown a thirst for Italian wines like never before.

Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2011 Key Figures

  •     40,000 visitors
  •     19,403 buyers from 71 countries
  •     934 exhibitors / 210 Italian

Vinitaly Pavilion 2011 @ HKIWSF Key Figures

  •     25 Panels featuring prestigious speakers and experts
  •     50 Speakers including Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine, Luca Gardini, Best Sommelier of the World 2010, Fabio Piccoli, Senior Consultant in International Wine Business and wine journalist, Daniele Cernilli, journalist, co-founder Gambero Rosso Magazine and the annual Italian Wine Guide, François Mauss, founder of the Grand Jury Européen
  •     1,500 Wines
  •     125 Italian Producers
  •     16 Italian Wine Regions

For more info, photos and videos of the Vinitaly Pavilion in Hong Kong click here: http://vinitalytour.com/photohk2011_eng.php

About VINITALY
Vinitaly is the largest wine fair in the world with over 4,500 producers and 150,000+ visitors (including 45,000 from foreign countries). The event is held every year in Verona, Italy (46th edition: Verona 25-28 March 2012). As the ambassador of Italian wine, the Vinitaly Tour organizes a series of events in many of the most important cities in India, US, Russia, Sweden, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, to facilitate collaboration and communication between Italian producers and the key players of the wine sector.

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Laetitia Hirschy

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