ProWein 2019: Around the World in 72 Hours

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Almost 7000 exhibitors from 64 countries and 61,500 trade visitors from 142 countries – these are the numbers for ProWein 2019, held in Düsseldorf from March 17 – 19, 2019. This event, now in its 25th year, has become the leading trade fair for wine & spirits. A trend barometer, this is the place to be to find out what’s going on around the winemaking world. So yours truly was on-site in Germany this time, tasting and sipping, and meeting and greeting winemakers from around the globe.

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Isn’t Argentina more than just Malbec?

You have to be organized about it, if you’re going to make a dent. I had a few goals: New World wines, for one. As a citizen of Europe, these are often hard to find. South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile were high on my list, but also Germany, and why the heck not, a jaunt through France to see what they were up to!
So here we go:

I started out on the Western Cape of South Africa, a very fine place to start.

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This Aaldering Pinotage Blanc was a mind-blower – a blanc de noir that simply must be sipped to be believed. Elegant, like everything about their presentation. Click on the link to learn more about them and this quintessential South African grape variety.

 

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Then I was lucky enough to meet woman winemaker Marinda Claassen of Elgin Vintners. What a privilege and a pleasure to speak with the people who make the wines, who can explain their vintages. From the Sauvignon Blanc to the Chardonnay to the Pinot Noir, these wines were an invitation to get to know that terroir better. Just let me check my agenda – this savvy producer also has hospitality at her estate, and we just may have to do a follow-up report, on location!

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Yours truly with Marinda Claassen

Getting to know wine is a geography lesson, and no geography lesson is complete without a map. Can I say just how much I love looking at maps while I’m tasting? It helps me to remember, to link the flavors to a region. Until I can visit that region, that is!

Big trade fairs are also a time for keeping an eye out for unusual displays, labels and trends. The French go classique (pourquoi pas?), combining amour and vin:

And classy displays of wine bottles, passing from Magnum to Nebuchadnezzar!

Rarely have I seen winemakers stick so close to their photos, really ‘putting their face’ on the wine they make. But that is a great marketing tool: showing the winemaker in a photo, so those of us who taste can recognize the person when we see them!

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Young French winemakers with a collaborative stand

Some unusual names for labels include this choice one:

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Yes, the eye-catching word is Sex, but I’m not sure this phrase is going to sell many bottles… Kind of negative. Maybe it sounds better in French? Also not sure why it isn’t ‘No Sex for Butterflies’ in the plural form. The mysteries of labeling wine…

In my wanderings, I discovered that Germany also has Puglia’s traditional houses, the trulli, actually called trulli there too. ???

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That came as quite a surprise!

As did the following ‘Vino Nobile’ flavored wine that has nothing to do with Montepulciano or Tuscany or even Italy:

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Tell me this is not a sign of things to come – I couldn’t bear it!

 

 

 

 

 

One of the Italian stands stuck with good, ole passion and a green-white-and-red motif:

It’s not Extraordinary Italian Taste, it is The Extraordinary Italian Taste! And where would we be without the passion?

But exploring new tastes and meeting new people is what it is all about. In the German pavilion, I met an enthusiastic export manager from Baden representing the Ihringer Estate. And what great Pinot (here called Burgunder), in all of its forms, from Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) also in a rosé expression, to Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), to Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc)!

The full range included two Pinot Noir, aged differently, that from this volcanic soil yielded two truly special wines. The Uringa 962  2015 vintage was particularly notable.

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Traveling to New Zealand (something the Italian Grapevine will have to do one day…), I was able to taste test the Sauvignon Blanc, among other things…

Both Elephant Hill from Hawke’s Bay and Luna Estate from Martinborough bore testimony to the reputed flinty minerality and vibrant acidity of that New World terroir.

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Quite unbelievably, what for many is the best-known label, Cloudy Bay from Marlborough, was squeezed into a corner, on equal footing with the other many meritorious labels.

 

 

 

 

And my ProWein 2019 ended up in Australia, with a winemaker of Italian origin, Lou Miranda and his daughter Lisa, who is the general manager of this Barossa estate.

That’s Lou and his daughter Lisa behind yours truly there at the stand. From the Chardonnay to the Shiraz, all you would want from that rich Australian valley. But the big surprise was Sagrantino and even a Sagrantino blend. Isn’t this what it is all about? Invention, experimentation, terroirs, the personal touch.

Auf wiedersehen ProWein!

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