The Real Wine Fair was, for us, the highlight of a busy few days in London. Three wine fairs merged into what seemed like one giant tasting table, punctuated by an enormous dinner with the growers, as well as an unforeseen encounter with Lebanese cuisine and several espresso martinis. We brandished our tasting glasses alongside Meeche Hudd of The Scarlet Hotel, where natural wine receives more than just a nod all year round, and Damon Little of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall’s excellent 2 Michelin-starred homage to seafood. Meeche came away enthused by what she tasted:
“loved the wine fair it was so inspirational! I have come away with so many ideas.”
We’ve rounded up some of our new discoveries below, and hope to soon welcome some fantastic (if slightly eccentric) new growers to our catalogue as a result of this adventure. If you visited the Real Wine Fair, do add your comments below.
Artisan distiller Maison Laurent Cazottes “lets nature do the talking” in a range of aperitifs and liqueurs made without sulphur, artificial yeasts or enzymes. Our favourite was quince (Liqueur de Coing Sauvage) – pure and completely delicious. From Domaine du Corps de Garde we enjoyed the Bourgogne Aligote – we’ve been looking to fill this spot on our list and believe this subtlely perfumed, organic Aligote, with it’s mouth-tingling acidity might just be the one. We also made a happy discovery over in the Savoie thanks to Eric Bordelet who recommended we try the three examples of Gringet from Domaine Belluard. The straight ‘Les Alpes’ was a general favourite, with a touch of honeyed melon, some richness balanced by good acidity and a whiff of fresh mountain air.
After some refueling (more on the excellent food offerings later) we made one exciting new Portuguese discovery – Morgadio da Calcada from the Douro. The result of a collaboration with Dirk Niepoort, this is definately one to watch. We warmed to the white – a nicely balanced food-friendly blend featuring Malvasia, but it was the white port which really made us stand up and take notice – lots of stewed fruit and apricots and very approachable. Moving on and we were happy to discover a good value natural wine in ‘Gino’, a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from Fattoria San Lorenzo. From a single vineyard worked with minimum intervention, this wine is perfumed with some textural complexity and a versatile match for fish dishes. Finally, from South Africa we met Craig Hawkins from Testalonga & Lammershoek, a young winemaker who is always keen to experiment. Meeche especially was won over by the pink pinotage, an under-the-table find as it’s not on release in the UK as yet, but keep us posted Craig!