Vinexpo finally ended last night, after five days of non-stop walking, working and socialising.

Any attempts during the opening Lafite press dinner to keep things understated were definitely thrown to one side at Chateau d'Issan, where the Fete de la Fleur was held last night.

Over 1,500 people gathered at the beautiful Chateau d'Issan in Margaux, where owner Emmanuel Cruse is the Grand Maitre of the Commanderie de Bontemps. This commanderie host the Fete de la Fleur evening, and last night was their 60th annivesary. Among the guests were Sophie Marceau and Christophe Lambert, along with Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppe and pretty much every major wine buyer who had spent the week at the fair. I was next to a very nice wine buyer from Korean Airways who told me they are currently pouring Leoville Poyferre and Pontet Canet 2002 in first class.

Last night we were served Haut Bailly 2003 to start the evening (after white Graves cru classes on the lawn, where I had Larrivet Haut Brion), then Lagrange 2001, Chateau d'Issan 2000, Mouton Rothschild 1988 and finally 1986 Climens. All the wines were brought into to either opera music or songs by Placido Domingo, the highlight for me being his duet with Frank Sinatra of My Way.

Oh, and then Bollinger champagne after we had watched the fireworks and moved into the brilliant vaulted cellar that had been turned into a nightclub. It's hard to beat the sight of Olivier Bernard, Dominique Befve and various other chateaux owners letting off steam after a week of Vinexpo by dancing to the Eurthymics and - of course - lots of Michael Jackson.

fete de la fleur

The news broke for us at around midnight, when Marina Cazes' sister called from New York. Previously, the main celeb entertainment had been watching Sophie Marceau and Christophe Lambert getting very cosy at the next table to me, but the Michael Jackson news spread through the room very fast.

I left at around 3.30, but I hear the very last guests made their way home around 5.30 this morning. A really wonderful Fete de la Fleur, and a magical setting.

A few other Vinexpo highlights:
The enormously oversized glasses on Bernard Magrezís stand. By far the weightiest and largest glassware on display in Hall One, so many congratulations to him.

Two 100% malbecs were launched from Chateau Magdeleine Bouhou in Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, an interesting development that I'm sure we will see more of.

Of course, the wonderful couldn't-have-been-scripted spat between Vinexpo and Italissima Ė having an oversized marquee too near to the site Ďitís obvious they want to make the most of vinexpo without payingí. For full details of this story, read Oliver Styles excellent news stories on http://www.decanter.com/news/news.php?id=285010

The final press release claiming that the drinking in moderation wine and health forum was well attended and one of the most popular events. I know that is politically expedient to show how committed vinexpo is to this subject, but I was there and believe me it was far from well attended. I counted maximum of 40 at any one time, while the same conference room the next day for the wine tourism forum was bursting at the seams.

The wines of course - among the highlights were the wonderful Masseto tasting (tasting notes asap), plus at dinners Yquem 88, Haut Brion 88, Lafite 78. And an excellent tasting with Viniportugal yesterday.

And finally, a vinexpo success story; sometimes the walk between stands and especially halls is distinctly annoying, but a friend told me that he met new a client, talked about establishing a contract and finally shook hands on deal while walking from one end of Hall 1 to the other - great example of how we should all be maximising our time at these events!