Next week sees the first major international wine show of the year open its doors to trade visitors. But the 10th annual ProWein show in Düsseldorf has much to offer than German wines and spirits - 2,800 exhibitors from 41 different countries will take part in the event which runs from 23-25 March.
As well as all the German wine producing regions, the ProWein show will feature producers from all of Europe's leading wine nations will be there, as well as many newcomers from Eastern Europe, many New World producers and exotic products from Asia.
The biggest exhibitor nations at the ProWein 2003 are Germany (795 exhibitors), Italy (724), France (428), Spain (208) and Austria (196). Not surprisingly, this reflects the popularity of wines from these countries in the German market: German wines account for 43 per cent of sales there, followed by France with 15.9 per cent, Italy with 13.1 per cent and Spain with 3.3 per cent, according to data from GfK Household Panel.
Increasing numbers of producers from these countries will take part in the show. All 13 German wine-growing areas will be represented, either by individual exhibitors or by publicity organisations for wines from a particular area. Germany is also the biggest foreign market for Austrian wine producers with 34 million litres sold there in 2002, and representatives from all 19 wine areas will be present at the show.
The Italian presence is more select, but nonetheless includes such major regions Tuscany, South Tyrol, Trentino, Treviso, Piedmont, as well as up-and-coming producers from Sicily and Apulia. The French presence at ProWein is the biggest for any show outside of France, reflecting the importance of the German market for French wines.
Germany is becoming more open to wines from the New World as well, and this is marked by an increase in the number of exhibitors from further-flung wine regions. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the US (a total of 135 exhibitors) will all be represented at the show.
But there is also a growing presence of wines from Eastern Europe, which have taken great steps in terms of quality in recent years, and many less well-known producers will also be exhibiting at the show: 80 exhibitors in total, from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Croatia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and Hungary.
As with every ProWein show, there will also be an international tasting programme, this year focused on that most German of grape varieties, Riesling, as well as Syrah/Shiraz. Some 382 different Riesling wines of the 2001/2002 vintages from ten countries will be presented for sampling, while 235 red wines of the Syrah/Shiraz variety (vintages from 1997 to 2002) from 19 countries will also be on display.
The spirits theme this year is dedicated to brandies, Cognac and Armagnac.
The ProWein show runs from 23-25 March, daily from 09:00 to 18:00. A day ticket costs €19, while entry for all three days costs €33. The catalogue costs €9. More details can be found on the ProWein website.