THE ALIMANTARIA ANECDOTES
This biennial wine/food fair is always a must in the wino/foodie’s diary. I think this is my 7th time in Barcelona for this event and after the first day I’m pleased to say that I’m enjoying the experience as always. Albeit, that there seems to be a change afoot – although it could be a one-off?
I know the halcyon pre-la-crisis days (before the Spanish recession) are gone, maybe forever, but I have to say that the encouraging signs that Spain is coming out of that dreadful economic blight, as witnessed in my area of the Costa Blanca, where the phoenix-like real estate agents proliferate once again, are not so noticeable here.
The rise and rise of the popularity of artisan olive oils is evidenced by the noticeable increase in the number of stands devoted to them, in a marked contrast to the number of wine stands this year. Furthermore, in the Intervin Hall, where two years ago for example, not even in pre-la-crisis times, there have to be the fewest wine exhibitors I’ve seen, but the most wine related (sometimes tenuously) other stands offering for example, snacks etc to accompany wine, and boxes in which to place the bottles.
And if that’s not worrying enough (for the hosts) there are several areas where rough seating has been arranged, occupying spaces that should have been filled with wine exhibitors. In past years the exhibition area has been full to bursting with wineries all trying to tempt the press and, more importantly, buyers too.
Indeed I wrote one article several Alimentaria’s ago entitles ‘The Changing Face of Alimentaria’ – a reference to the increasing number of Chinese buyers who were being feted by all and sundry in their attempts to break into the, predicted burgeoning Asian market. The aisles were packed – today not so at all.
So what does it mean? That the quality of Spanish wine is on the wane? No – far from it. I’ve just returned from a José Peñin led tasting where impressive statistics were shown, indicating, nay, proving that the standard of Spanish wine is currently at an all time high.
So exactly what is the nature of the problem, perceived by me at least?
Is it perhaps the competition? Fenavin, another Biennial fair, held usually in Ciudad Real, where I was last year, seems to expand year on year – is this a reason for an apparent decline in numbers exhibiting in Alimentaria? Or, maybe it’s the prices charged by a perhaps slightly arrogant Alimentaria?
A new friend of mine, a ‘natural wine’ maker was asked if he’d like to exhibit at Alimentaria 2016n as poart if a group of similarly disposed winemakers. His reasons declining were firstly the cost, and, admittedly, the perceived public’s indifference to the notion of ‘natural wines’.
Or is the decline simply a matter of a gradual loss of Alimentaria’s magnetism – are fewer people drawn to the event?
I suspect it’s a combination of all the above. And maybe it’s just a one-off, perhaps a cyclical thing, with a bigger and better bounce-back in 2018?
Well, rather a minor-keyed intro to Alimentaria 2016 above – there are also lotsa good things about this year’s event too!
The ‘Vinorum Think’ concept, a new innovation this year, is excellent. I’ve been to two of the ‘cata’ (tasting) events so far and I’m planning on a few more too – as they’ve been excellent! Luminaries such as José Peñin (he of the Guide) and Guillermo Cruz, sommelier extraordinaire have presented exemplary catas with extraordinarily fine wines (e.g. a horizontal tasting of Rioja’s from the 2001 vintage; and a sample of the wines given top marks in the Peñin Guide 2016).
So, there’s plenty more to come here at Alimentaria 2016 – and another Anecdote later!