A thousand guests including buyers from the likes of Tesco and Majestic flitted between 10 galleries crammed with wines from around the globe.
Under the shadow of a monolithic acrylic canvas by Russian artist Valery Koshlyakov guests tasted a range of wines from Portuguese estate Quinta do Crasto. They were complemented by cured pork from an inverted pig’s leg that was being carved while the wine was poured.
Simon Bradbury, the firm’s off-trade director, was pleased to see so many guests but said those who could not make it missed out on interesting new wines from regions they may not have considered.
They included fine wines from the Carmel Winery in Israel and Ixsir in Lebanon, along with many from more established regions.
Bradbury also shared some market insight with OLN.
“Anyone who tells you it’s not tough is not telling the truth but there’s companies that stick to what they’re good at,” he said.
“We will weather the storm as long as we continue to innovate we will grow in a difficult market.
“We have sold less and less entry-level wine over the last five years. We were selling hundreds of cases of Pinot Grigio but we don’t any more.
“It’s become a commodity, a trading item, and now we are all about working at a higher level and trying to drive value.
“It’s now about discovering the next exciting thing.
“That’s the only way to stay ahead in a market where volume is declining.
“With Tesco we were the first to bring in mass-scale Fiano to the off-trade.
“People who don’t innovate get left behind.
“I think there will definitely be more casualties – it is just a case of when and who.”
More than half of Enotria’s wine volume sales come in the off-trade and Bradbury added: “For retailers it’s just about what’s selling and why. Why is Fiano selling? Is it the style or the price? What other Italian styles can give us nice wines?
“We believe Garganega will do well. It’s dry, crisp, aromatic and good value for money.
“Spain is still the best value for money in a year of short harvests so it’s about finding varietals that deliver something a little different.”
As he spoke bartenders and sommeliers whipped up cocktails in Gallery Three in a bid to win a trip to Sicily by making the best drink.
Bradbury said: “Key for me is trying to translate cocktails to the off-trade, either through premixed cans or bottles or through cross-merchandising.
“I have talked to retailers about it and they think it’s worth consideration.”