Trucking hell for Vinexpo

Scores of exhibitors suffered a major setback at the world's largest wine fair when a lorry carrying show samples was impounded by the French authorities.

Disaster struck two days before Vinexpo's opening when a lorry bringing in samples for, among others, Hayman Distillers, Wines of South Africa, E&J Gallo and the International Wine Challenge, were seized by French Customs at the France/Belgium border.

The consignment was finally released late on the first day of the show, but was not allowed to come to Bordeaux , being re-directed to Antwerp for new paperwork.

James Hayman, of Hayman Distillers, said: "This is the worst thing that can happen to you at a show. We ended up having to bring in new, duty-paid stock from our London warehouse, getting it driven over through the night."

The samples were impounded because of a missing Accompanying Administration Document, according to the French authorities.

More than 50,000 visitors attended this year's Vinexpo, with organisers reporting notable growth in interest from Asia. The five-day event in Bordeaux attracted a record number of foreign visitors, with 2,000 travelling from the Far East to sample wines and spirits from across the globe.

However, the strongest attendance from outside France came from the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland. Attendance at Club Vinexpo, the meeting place for wine and spirits buyers registered 1,500 visitors, an increase of 26 per cent on 2005.

Overall, the number of visitors attending the fair rose by 3 per cent.

Vinexpo chief executive Robert Beynat hailed the floating bridge as one of the show's many successes because of the time it saved visitors travelling between the Marketers Salon and the Club du Lac and main exhibition halls.