Continuing her travels in Bordeaux, here’s more from Michelle Trone on the end of VinExpo 2013 …

I’ve just finished a fascinating week with Total Wine’s Buying Team in Bordeaux, France for VinExpo. One of my favorite parts of the wine and spirits industry is how international it is – VinExpo 2013 attracted nearly 50,000 visitors from 44 countries.

Of all the countries represented at VinExpo, I most enjoyed the Austria section. I joined our wine buying team in a meeting with Ludwig Holzer of Winzer Krems winery. I had visited Ludwig’s winery near the town of Krems, Austria several years ago and was happy to have the chance to see him again and to taste more of his wines. We tasted some classic Austrian Grüner Veltliner, which was fruity and crisp, and then tried an unusual late harvest Gewürztraminer, which was so sweet that we couldn’t decide whether it would go in the “Austria” or the “Dessert Wine” section.

On the last day of VinExpo, some members of our team headed to Cognac for the day, where they met with producers of Cognac and French vodkas. I decided to stay in Bordeaux, where I spent much of the day focused on Italy. I met with Gaia Gaja, maker of Gaja wine, and spent some time searching for new products to expand Total Wine’s Prosecco selection.

Robert, David and families Vinexpo 2013

Total Wine & More owners Robert and David Trone with their families at Fête de la Fleur – VinExpo 2013

Our team celebrated the end of VinExpo at Fête de la Fleur, an extravagant dinner and gala with 1,500 attendees held on the last day of VinExpo. This year’s Fête de la Fleur was held at Château Lagrange, a third growth château in Saint-Julien. The château was spectacular; a beautiful white estate surrounded by parkland and a lake.

Château Lagrange is owned by the Japanese Group Suntory, a wine and spirits distributor, so elements of Japanese culture were incorporated seamlessly into the evening, such as the Japanese Whiskey served after the meal. The meal itself was delicious, and the wine was even better. I especially enjoyed the unique cheese course paired with a 1990 Château Lafite Rothschild. The menu was even written in haiku – another interesting Japanese touch.

The gala was enormous, and throughout the night I met people involved in every aspect of the wine business. At dinner I sat between the owner of retail wine shops in Dubai and a winemaker from Château Doisy Daëne in the Sauternes appellation. I also ran into Jean-Hubert Fabre, Total Wine’s French intern from last year, and a former contributor to this blog!

It was a great way to celebrate the end of a productive and interesting week at VinExpo.