London Wine Week will be popping it’s annual cork and pouring it’s way into our lives from 23rd – 29th May with events and at over 100 venues across the city. With this fuelling my love of a tipple in the city, I felt I had to let you know about some of the great things that you should be tasting from my visit to the The London Wine Fair earlier this month.
Now in it’s 36th year, the event was held at Olympia and as always was a busy and vibrant show with plenty to see, smell, taste and chat about in relation to the luscious drink. The place was taken over by winemakers from all over the world. This year saw wines from countries like Kazakstan, Azaerbigasn. Ecuador, Mexico and China as well as from all the usual suspects. 18 tonnes of ice were used to chill those bottles and 70 thousand glasses were used to taste…. I actually think most were used by me as I kept putting my glass down and forgetting where it was.
It’s impossible to taste everything but by having a casual meander around you find a few gems… And when you see a few familiar faces, the mutual sharing of tips on what to taste and what to avoid is invaluable.
It’s always a pleasure to visit the team at Eclectic Wines who have been Importing and promoting the wines of Greece for more than a decade. It was a certain Peter Richards MW who introduced me to Mary and her team who couldn’t be more passionate about the wines they import. I was then lucky enough to meet Evdokia Kalamidiotou, winemaker at Seméli who is producing a host of delicious white and red wines that you will adore. With more Greek wine making it into the country, it’s worth trying something really decent like Evdokia’s wines so get on www.eclecticwines.co.uk for more information.
A visit to the wine fair also wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see the team at Swig who specialize in bringing artisan wines from all overt he world to our attention. There is never a dull moment on the stand and this year, I got to meet one of the vibrant and interesting winemakers on the planet: Pieter Walser who owns BLANKBottle, based in South Africa. What is BLANKBottle? The website says it best – Describe BLANKbottle in one sentence: Clothes maketh not the man; judge my wines on what’s in the bottle, not the varietal on the label.
I get it – Who needs to know about the grape varieties when it’s what it tastes like that counts. The enigmatic Mr Walser – doesn’t own any winemaking land. In fact all of his wines are made from vineyards that particularly interest him. This means that he rarely repeats a wine – adding the maverick nature of this man’s genius. Sometimes, if the wines are well received and if he’s lucky enough to be able to work with the same vineyard, they just might end up being repeated. So the rule is – Appreciate the wine you like while it’s still being made!
All of Pieter’s wines hold enigmatic and interesting stories from the origin of the wine to how the label looks and there is far too much innovation, intrigue and enthusiasm to ever get across in an article. So explore with your taste buds if you get the opportunity. To be honest, I wish I could spend all day with the man to get the lowdown on all of his crazy and interesting wines, names and labels but for that I need to get on a plane down south… Great idea for a trip though!
Peter’s incredible wines are available through the lovely people at www.swig.co.uk who couldn’t be nicer if they tried. Let them take you on a magical mystery tour of wine by sending you a few of their faves. You won’t regret it.
English wines were flying their flag high. Nyetimber, based in West Sussex had a beautiful bus stocked with more fizz than a society wedding. Their 2009 Blanc de Blanc is tasting particularly fiun and vibrant. The boys at Hattingly Valey are continuing their sterling work with a wonderful collection of fizz. Their Classic Cuvee 2013 is tasting exceptional as is their Blanc de Blanc and their ‘hot of the press’ 2013 rosé which is absolutely stunning.
Sticking with a South African theme, a trip to the wine fair wouldn’t be complete without a sip of some of the stunning wines from Kleine Zalze. I have long been a fan of their Chenin Blanc which can be purchased in Waitrose and Asda amongst other locations and it was a real treat to meet winemaker RJ Botha who was armed with their brand new tangingly-tempting 2016 vintage. Wine couldn’t get any younger and it was great to get an exclusive sip alongside a new wine-headed and like-minded friend of mine Mike Turner, Founder and director of ‘Please Bring me my Wine’ – I like his style! Follow the man on Twitter @PBMMW.
One more quick shout out has to go to the effervexcent Helen Chesshire who has raised the bar in exciting and eccentric gin making. Her Brighton Gin was on show at the wine fair (I know it’s not a wine but who cares?) and her flamboyance is all over this gin and it was fab to taste it with tonic and a garnish of minty Brighton Rock. You’ve got to try it. Refreshing isn’t even the word! www.brightongin.com
So now I’ve built up a thirst, I urge you to stop reading and get out there and have some tasty adventures in wineland. Happy London Wine Week all!
For a few tips on what to sip and where to do it during London Wine Week, check out my Q&A with Cactus Kitchens http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6e5bbb6080345be217ba9671b&id=5dd30a4d23&e=%5bUNIQID
For more info n London Wine Week go to www.londonwineweek.com