I’ve been going to Barcelona’s biennial food and wine fair, Alimentaria, for the last 14 years – that’s a lot of wine (I don’t have time for the food!). However, this year it’s been a little different, and it may be my last.
The halcyon days before ‘la crisis’ (Spain’s long-lived recession, out of which we still haven’t emerged, though I’m delighted to say the signs are encouraging) are long gone, I know. For example eight or ten years ago, this fair was so huge it filled two massive sights in Barcelona, with an invariably packed, complimentary bus shuttle pinging back and forth between to two, like a pre-programmed pinball machine.
When ‘la crisis’ hit, the two sights were merged into one, understandably, though this one arena had several different pavilions covering several thousand square metres. Abbreviated, yes, but in no way diminished. Alimentaria was still the go-to fair for all wine producers in Spain, as well as a number from abroad.
So, having chucked my luggage in my, shall we say, modest, hotel room on arrival in Barcelona, just a couple of hours after the inauguration of Alimentaria 2016, I caught the metro (the bus had disappeared two or more years ago) to the Gran Via site.
It was quiet when I entered the press room, though perfectly professional, as always. This quiet, in terms of delegates, press people and visitors, continued, slightly eerily, as I walked to the Intervin Pavillion – the location, as the name suggests, where I would be based for the three days of my trip.
The normally packed, approximately 100 metre-long aisles were also quiet, with exhibitors all looking slightly pleadingly as I did my usual recce. I’ve always walked up and down along all the aisles, delineated helpfully, as always, by huge letters strung from the rafters many metres above. This year was no exception – however this year was an exception in itself.
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