A few days ago we have returned to visit The Real Wine Fair which celebrates the wines made with minimal intervention.
What are real wines? What are natural wines?
Having said that, generally there is no further explanation whether they are organic or just natural, yet what you should have in mind is that the levels of sulphites would be minimal.
The organisers stated that “‘Real wine’ is a term embracing wines that are made organically, bio-dynamically and naturally. By no means precise nor prescriptive it serves chiefly to highlight growers who work with minimal mediation, ideally to obtain the purest articulation of terroir, fruit and vintage.”
Wine Fair in 2016: what, where, when?
This year this fair has returned to London’s Tobacco Dock (a refurbished venue, which is a bit grandeur, so you feel being slightly lost there, but I do like this exposed brickwork so much it has been quite a wonderful experience) for two days, so general public could sample the wines by paying £20 ticket price (£15 if bought in advance). To be absolutely fair it was a good price as you could find up to 200 stalls with artisan wines ready to be sampled. France, Italy and Spain were amongst those represented really well, whilst you could still find islands of Georgian wines, English or Australian. On the second day it was a free event for trade and press.
I have visited it on the second day, but it was still very busy. I can only imagine how difficult it was to get closer to some more popular stalls on Sunday, especially knowing that sun was shining and people were out and about!
The Real Wine Fair 2016 Highlights:
1. I have met a winemaker from Sao del Coster, a winery that I have visited last year during my trip to Priorat. It was wonderful to meet again. The wines were amazing and she was kind to introduce me to their importer who helped me to navigate around the stalls and pick the gems. I cannot imagine anyone could simply go and try everything – 200 stalls by at least 6 wines means over a thousand samples! Gosh.
2. Amazing aged Cavas from Penedes. If you have thought that it could be just citrus and appley flavours, easy to drink and nothing too special, then think again, Recaredo is making absolutely gorgeous matured Cavas. They are over £20 per bottle but so worth it!
3. Amphora wines from Sicily. Imagine an ancient way to mature wines that is still employed? The wines tasted fresh and somewhat unique!
4. Some wines, especially no-sulfites-added, can have that off putting smell when you first sniff it, but there were some winemakers who managed to control this; some of the wines may have not tasted on par with more conventional examples, but they were fresh, expressive of the grapes and sometimes simply unique – unusual grape varieties, production methods and terroirs.
The show also had a food court, which featured quite a spectacular artisan bread display, but also a few stalls from London’s famous restaurants i.e. Ottolenghi and Salt Yard, but also up and coming Ducksoup (a restaurant based in Soho that has a natural wine bar). After sampling some Spanish wines I could not resist a plate of pimientos de padron!
Downsides of the show were:
1. Some producers were either bored, or simply not interested as some stalls simply did not greet visitors at all. Not sure what was their goal really, but the crowd felt it and they were almost abandoned.
2. The facilities around food court were quite minimal with just a few tables, so I personally did not enjoy having a platter of peppers, a tasting glass, a notebook and a pen in my hand whilst trying to eat!
3. Arguably a bit too many producers, some eager to tell a story, some not so much. Organisation could definitely be better. Yet I must say that as compared to the last year, this time it has been a better and more spacious venue, so I at least wasn’t feeling suffocated and uncomfortable as Raw Fair 2015 (here goes our last year’s review). Just to note that RAW Fair is not the same as this Real Wine Fair, it was an easy mistake even for us!
Have your say about natural wines and the fair!
Have you been at the fair?
What were your thoughts and experience?
Care to share your wine tasting notes?