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Beautiful South tasting to return in 2014 after exceeding its 2013 targets

Published:  18 September, 2013

Organisers of the first Beautiful South tasting last week at London's Olympia, that brought together wines from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, claim the event surpassed its target figures and that the combined tasting will go ahead again next year.

This year's inaugural event, organised by Wines of Argentina, Wines of Chile and Wines of South Africa, saw nearly 330 exhibitors take part and attracted 1,140 people over September 11 and September 12. This was up on the 1,000 target the three generics had hoped for and included 168 visitors that attended both days. The 1,140 figure is a 43% uplift of what any one of the generic bodies could expect to a single tasting.

A Beautiful South spokespeson said: "The spirit of collaboration that brought this event to fruition and met the trade's request for generics to work together will continue in 2014, with a series of seminars at Prowein, under the banner of The Beautiful South and a London event in September. We are in the process of researching with visitors and exhibitors to make the event even better in the future and we aim to attract more visitors from Europe next year, with specific campaigns in key markets."

The 2013 event proved relatively successful in bringing in overseas visitors, with 10% of visitors coming from Europe, as well as buyers from key markets like the United States and Canada. Forty per cent of visitors were based in London. The tasting saw buyers from most of the major multiples attend including Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Tesco, the Co-operative Group, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Majestic, Oddbins and Wholefoods.

Tesco buyer, Graham Nash, tweeted: "For me the Beautiful South tasting (was) an outstanding success. Some observations. Good size, buzz, layout (largely) by agent not country."

Robert Mackinlay of South African producer, Oldenburg, told "The Beautiful South tasting has the potential to become the southern hemisphere's alternative to Vinexpo. It also could become a truly international show. It's not yet. But it could be. It is definitely a good idea."

His views were echoed by the vast majority of exhibitors that Harpers spoke to across the two days, who welcomed the fresh thinking, new approach and potential of three key wine producing countries working together.

There were, however, hopes that next year's event would have more theatre and be easier to navigate and that trying to cover over 300 producers for most visitors in one day was quite an overwhemling task.

Beautiful South logo

Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants said that whilst he welcomed the new approach it was difficult for him to be able to go and see new producers as he only really had the time to visit existing supplilers. "Normally I would go to all three separate generic tasting as they collectively account for 15% of my turnover, so would give up three days to do so. But it is very hard give up two days back to back."

Laurie Webster of Argentinian specialists, Las Bodegas, urged the three generic bodies to not only listen carefully to all the feedback from this year's exhbitors but to publish them and have an open debate about how the event can be improved for next year. "But I really like the idea of this tasting. But there are definiitely lessons to be learnt about its execution for next year and I would urge them to be open and transparent about that."

Patrick McGrath, managing director of Hatch Mansfield, said the organisers should be applauded for coming together in this way. "I think it was a good show and overall it worked. There was a lot of good influential people there and for the first time I think they have done a very good job."

Next year's Beautiful South tasting will take place between September 10-11 at London's Olympia.

* You can read Harpers' columnist Mike Paul's view on the Beautiful South tastings and his ideas on how it can be built on for future years here.

* If you missed this year's event you can read our preview of the event including the thoughts of each of the generic bodies in our special online report. Click here.