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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tim Atkin MW

The opening day of the 12th edition of Vinexpo, the world's leading drinks exhibition, was marked by controversy amidst unseasonably hot weather. As temperatures at the fair hit 40C - the hottest June in the Gironde since 1950 - exhibitors in Hall 3 made a formal complaint about the failure of the air conditioning system, with some exhibitors talking of possible legal action against the organisers. Complaints were loudest among producers from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, many of whom felt that they had been unfairly penalised by being grouped together two kilometres from the main entrance', according to Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof in South Africa. It looks as if the French are deliberately making things difficult for certain New World countries,' he added. If that's the way they want it, then they will end up with a fair all to themselves in 2005.' Chester Osborn of d'Arenberg in Australia was even angrier. Given the price of exhibiting here, this is a disgrace,' he told Harpers. It must be close to 42C and 90% humidity in here, which makes it impossible to taste red wines. I've learnt a lot of new French swearwords in the last 12 hours.' The president of Vinexpo, Jean-Marie Chadronnier, said that the problem in Hall 3 had been fixed by the second morning of the fair, 23 June. June 22 was one of the hottest days ever in Bordeaux and it was unfortunate that the air conditioning broke down in the afternoon. But, if anything, things were even worse in the Club des Marques. We can't control the weather, unfortunately.'