Friday, May 23, 2008

May Herald Article

Mays Herald article can be found here.

I'll cut and paste the original below as well.

I will say, the Expo was pretty good. If nothing else I had a good old drink and left there in pretty high spirits.

Also, it really was nice to go back to Sideway. The prices have gone up a touch but I suspect that isn't really their fault. Prices seem to be rising everywhere. Sitting on the terrace is worth it though I have to say. A really pleasant way to spend an evening.
For the record I had a Pouilly Fume which was a lovely subtle Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fresh with a touch of minerality it was very good.

Seoul Wine Expo 2008

As a member of the public, Wine Expos or shows are a great place to go and meet the people behind the wine we drink. Seoul Wine Expo was held over the weekend of the 10th of June and to all appearances it appeared to be a great success. This was not some small exhibition for connoisseurs and the wine trade to give themselves a smug mutual pat on the back, this was a full on publicity exercise with the objective being the continued growth of the wine industry on the peninsula. The Coex exhibition hall was decked out attractively with all the major players having pretty hefty presences and there was a sense that they were out to win new customers.

The crowd was encouragingly young and there was a noticeable dominance in numbers of women over men. Smartly dressed and clutching wine glasses as they moved from stall to stall it was apparent that they are the future for the wine market here. It is by marketing heavily to young women with disposable income that wine can start making inroads into the beer and soju markets. This means a move away from the big, heavy red wines that have their sights set on the Bordelaise and a move to lighter, fruitier, wines and dare I say it, white wine.

Most of the exporters I met, French, Italian, Australian and Argentinean all said the same thing, that breaking into the Korean market was difficult. With all the red tape and the culturally different business practices I got the impression that the previous few days of the Expo had been somewhat arduous for them. However, all expressed great hope in the growth of the Korean market and it seems that it is certainly no longer an after thought. It is expected that Korea will mature into a market much like Japan.

The heavy presence of Wine Australia, a body dedicated to promoting the virtues of Australian wines was a real indication of how seriously the potential is being taken and it was an Australian wine that for me, was the star of the show. Murray street vineyards is a small, boutique winery based in the Barossa region of Australia. They had a small stall fronted by a very friendly Marketing manager who was really excited to be in Korea. The first wine we tasted was a blend of Viognier and Marsanne and it is exactly the sort of wine that I see the new, wine savvy customers going for. Aromatic, soft and fruity it is a beautifully executed blend. The other wines were all red and based on Shiraz, Barossa valleys classic grape and all were equally successful. Murray Street Wines are apparently available in EMart but unfortunately not my local branch so I cannot advise on price.

Sideway Wine

Sideway wine in Gangnam( is something of an oenophiles oasis. It sits at the top of the hill behind Gangnam station and, unusually for many wine bars here, sits at street level with big windows letting in lots of light. And it is indeed a light, airy space with cream leather sofas and more traditional bar seating. Most important of all it has a terrace for enjoying those summer evenings. Admittedly the view of a wall is not great but the addition of a projector showing off some the world’s great vineyards is eye catching and a good way of brushing up on your wine geography. What makes it so appealing a place as a wine drinker is its small, focused wine list. There are not pages and pages of sub-standard wines to flick through just a good selection of well chosen wines broken down into country and region categories. It means you can order pretty much anything without fear of making a big mistake. The owner, Anthony, is knowledgeable, friendly and happy to help with your choice and, being a French man, is making sure the food offered is up to scratch and will complement whatever you are drinking. With a wine shop of sorts on site if you pick a cracker for your evening you can take one home and enjoy it at your leisure.

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