Friday, 4 June 2010

London International Wine Fair, 18-20.5.10

A short visit but an informative one.

Egyptian wine (had no idea there was such a thing)
An excellent Sagrantino from Australia (ditto but not so surprising)Several Virginia Nebbiolos (see our post of 1.11.09)
Our first sighting (and tasting) of Posip (Croatia) Russian Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon Öküzgözü (Turkey), Chateau Indage (Maharashtra, India)

Bumping into Carla Capalbo and Nicholas Belfrage

Some low-alcohol (5%) Bulgarian wines. Hearing that D&F (Portuguese wine shippers) would be trying to interest The Wine Society in listin
g Fundacao Oriente Colares (Red) - we hope they do. Tasting Australian Vermentino, Zuccardi’s first Torrontes from Salta, Chilean

Some of these were more positive than others. The Gianaclis vineyards near Alexandria, Egypt were established in 1882 and the present (Bordelais) winemaker Sebastien Boudry makes refreshingly light bodied whites and reds from French and Spanish varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Merlot, Bobal, Tempranillo and Viognier and something called Sultanine Blanche which turns out to be Thompson Seedless).

The Sagrantino was by Andrew Peace, Murray River and is a dead ringer for an Umbrian one. The variety is difficult to grow and always expensive, so unlikely to find its way to the UK market.

There was amazingly enough an entire group of exhibitors from Virginia including Barboursville, Breaux, New Horizon, Kluge, Potomac Point, Veramar and Veritas Vineyards. We finally tasted the Barboursville Nebbiolo and Viognier which had proved so elusive von our trip to DC last October and other Nebbiolos were good enough to suggest they really could be the signature grape of Virginia. A conversation with one of the exhibitors here allowed us to demonstrate our woeful ignorance of this region of America: we had been able to drift this far in life without realising there are two separate states, one called Virginia and another completely different state called West Virginia. Both produce wine (actually all states do so now) but Virginia is the more prominent. Out informant further told us that it was forbidden to ship Virginian wine to West Virginia! The influence of Prohibition is still alive and malignant.

Neither Posip nor the other grapes from Russia, Turkey, Australia and Argentina were much of a revelation and the Indian wines did not shine. The Bulgarian low alcohol efforts will not solve the problem of making good low-alcohol wine, but Nicholas Belfrage made a pronouncement on Tai Rosso (see post of 26.3.10) to the effect that this grape, formerly known as Tocai Rosso is indeed nothing else than Grenache. Coming from this source we can say the opinion must be definitive and the matter is now resolved!

Despite all these exciting experiences gained in a very short visit and regretting not having time for a great many more which may have been on offer, our predominant impression of the fair was that the money is overwhelmingly on the safe conservative tried and tested blue chip side of the industry and probably nothing is going to change that any time soon. A pity really.

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