Talk about a whirlwind! Spending less than 48 hours to go to London for a wine show isn't something I recommend to most people, but this one is not to be missed. I packed up and headed to London last Saturday and was not at all disappointed by what we found at Tobacco Dock. Similar to the RAW Wine shows, but with a day for industry only, The Real Wine Fair showcases over 100 organic, biodynamic, and natural wine producers over two days with some great slow food, coffee and beer producers to snack on between tastings.
While most people go there to see the greats (and there were some serious greats: Tschida, La Garagista, Denavola, and many others) I was there to meet with 20 producers that you can't really find in the US yet. While 10 tastings in a day doesn't sound like a lot, after I did my math I realized I tasted and reviewed over 120 wines in 48 hours. Thankfully the spittoons were plentiful, except for next to Tillingham Farms for some reason, not that I minded actually drinking their wines ;).
With this in mind, here's our take on the event:
1. Producer variety was great!
There were over 21 countries represented and every style of wine you can think of. Some of the craziest wines I've seen, like some Portuguese reds aged underwater in the sea from Herdade do Cebolal, to super clean and clear expressions of specific DOCGs like Soave producer Cantina Filippi. Everywhere you turned there was another variety to try.
2. Not a lot of variety of distributors
Something I heard a lot of people comment on was that while the range of producers was excellent, the variety of distributors was basically limited to Les Caves and a couple others. I assume this is because they sponsor or put on the event with The Real Wine Fair team, but it definitely seems like there could be some more representation from the smaller guys. We'd never have made it on that list if it were the US, we're way too small :)
3. The US represented so well!
While we don't do much with US producers as an importer, I was pumped by the list of producers from the US that came out! I've had and love all of their wines and found myself constantly turning to the Brits around me and asking if they'd tried Lewandowski or LoFi yet. There are so many cool wines coming out of this country right now and the display at this event was stunning.
4. Really nice seminars
I was able to catch the Orange wine seminar and thought Simon Woolf (author of Amber Revolution) and found it very informative but also interactive. Focusing only on the new world Orange wines it was a totally different take on what is typically discussed in Orange wines. While I didn't catch the other talks, the speakers were people I have a lot of respect for like Jamie Goode and Michael Völker. Doing these seminars on the open to public day was great too so the consumers could participate.
Overall it was a really positive vibe, felt incredibly professional, and we got exactly what we needed out of it. So, how were the producer appointments you ask? Overall, so great! There are several producers I could see us working with soon and others that I know will take quite a bit of time (it's not exactly easy to figure out how to do reefer LCL wine shipping from Poland or Hungary). While I can't spoil on here who we're most excited about, I do have some fun pics from wines that really interested me that I'll put below:
Imerso wine from Herdad de Cebolal - They have one bottle that goes through regular aging and another (I bet you can guess which one) that is submerged underwater with the cork exposed. The aging on it was like nothing I'd ever tried before! I wanted to take it home for the last GOT episodes as an Iron Islands wine hehe.
No cell phones with this wine! The Zorjan winemakers decided to go beyond their serving instructions with temperature and also recommend that no cell phones be involved in the consumption of this wine. I found that to be a really nice statement, then immediately took a picture of this bottle (with my phone) and posted it on social media (with my phone) while I was tasting it. You win some you lose some.
Ever disgorged your own pet-nat? Hungary's Szolo makes a pet-nat that is sold upside down with a holder to have the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Then you can either disgorge it (put it underwater and slowly open the cap to let the sediment out), or you can shake it up as the French so enjoy doing, and let it chill in the fridge for a few days before opening like a beer. Also, all their wines are called something in music and this one is called Boogie which I loved :)
Talk about a big statement! I had so many great quotes from the vigneron of Castagna. He's apparently known for his reds at home, so when he decided to move into Riesling a few years ago, he wanted to make a splash on the market and released his first Riesling in magnum only. Was delicious! Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to fit a bottle that size in your online orders anytime soon.
Polish wines! Having never tried a wine from Poland I was very intrigued to meet with Dom Bliskowice. It was very cool to hear that they're working with vitis vinifera AND hybrid grapes. The experimentation they're doing and understanding what the northern soils need in Poland gives me hope for cold climate wine all over the place!
Want to learn more about these events? Check out our last review on RAW Wine New York.