Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Real Wine Fair, London March 17th 2013

Quite big but manageable, this 2nd 'tasting of organic, biodynamic and natural wines' at Tobacco Dock in East London had a good proportion of fascinating discoveries for Slotovino. It was also an opportunity to meet in person the great winemakers whose produce have given us and so many others such pleasure and stimulation.

Before coming on to the discoveries, we would like to list the Greats who took the trouble to come to London and unfailingly answer questions and be nice to annoying people like us.

First was the scion of Mas de Daumas Gassac, Samuel Guibert.

The famous property lists over 20 grape varieties and we asked him 'how come?'. The answer was charming. He said his parents travelled a lot and wherever they went they used to like to collect cuttings of local grape varieties and bring them home. How wonderfully seredipidous and unscientific. It doesn't prevent Mas de Daumas Gassac making some of France's best wines. Perhaps it even helps it! O si sic omnes.

Another legend was Fulvio Bressan himself. We had a long conversation with the giant of Gorizia. He is a passionate and emotional man ready to see the wrongs of the world and put them right. We ended with embraces and warm feelings not only about his marvellous wines. Of course the two are connected!

There were the people from Binner and Frick, Domaine de Montrieux, Trinchero, Foradori, Pincic, Zidarich, Skerk, Afros, Montevertine, de Bartoli, COS and Hatzidakis and many others. Only Thierry Navarre was missing this year..

Now to the pioneers of Heritage varieties, autochtonous grapes, those brought back from extinction and so forth. Our first great find was Bodegas Bernabe Navarro. Sr. Navarro was on hand to tell us about his property in Alicante. He grows grapes such as Merseguera, Rojal, Forcallat and Garnacha Peluda (Lledoner Pelut).

We tasted the first three of these and found them exceedingly good and fresh.

La Armistad is 100% Rojal,

Ramblin Del Arco 100% Forcallat 

and La Vina de Simon, 100% Merseguera. It is much rarer in Spain than in Italy for example to find producers working with local varieties. This was a discovery indeed.

We have mentioned the elusive Spanish grape Moravia Agria before in this blog and has found a blend in which this represented 60% called Buena Pinta at the late lamented Blue and Green, produced by Bodegas y Vinedos Ponce, Manchuela. With a visit to Valencia coming up we had planned to hire a car and zoom off to Iniesta, about 100 miles away to visit Juan Antonio Ponce and see if we could find any 100% Moravia Agria. Who should we find practically at the next table to Bernabe Navarro but Sr. Ponce himself! As well as saving ourselves the 200 mile round trip, we got to meet this wonderful man, taste his wines and learn that in a year or two he plans a 100% Moravia Agria. Thank you Real Wine Fair!

Also completely unexpected was our encounter with the Sr. Eulogio Pomares and his wife of  Zarate Family, Saines Valley, Rias Baixas (Galicia).

Here we were introduced to wines from varieties such as Tinto Caino (wierd even for us),

Loureiro Tinto (soft and lovely) and Espadeiro (both wierd and wonderful). Rias Baixas produces 99% white wines and only 1% Red, Sr. Pomares told us. Indeed at a London International Wine Festival a couple of years ago we asked a representative on the Rias Baixas stand about red wines and he knotted his brow and had to ask colleagues if there was any. he even opined that if there was it couldn't be any good. The Zarate stand proved him very wrong indeed.

There had to be discoveries among the Italian exhibitors and our first was at AA Fondo San Giuseppe, Brisighella, Emilia Romagna. Sr. Stefano Bariani, Sra. Bariani and Signorina Bariani were on hand to tell us about a quintessential Slotovino grape, a rarity indeed -

 'Centesimino'. We only realised just how rare this was when we attended Vinitaly in April and met another of handful of producers making wine from this grape which is also known as 'Sauvignon Rosso' (see our Blog on Vinitaly - when it comes!). That was La Sabbiona of Oriolo del Fichi, Faenza.

The story behind the name Centesimino is nice. One Pietro Pianori found a vine in his garden and propagated it. His vines escaped the Phylloxera plague and all modern plantings are taken from them. Pianori's nickname was Centesimino (little cent) because of his way with money. It now has the blessing of the official register of Italian grapes although the version by La Sabbiona is still known as Sauvignon Rosso.

Georgia was perhaps the biggest story at the fair; the more we learn about this fascinating country there more there is to discover. We had met John Wurdeman at previous fairs.

He seems to be an inexhaustable promotor not only of his wines, 'Pheasant's Tears' but also those of his colleagues. Mr. Wurdeman is an American from the Virginia whose story is so picaresque that at the age of 35, it could fill at least one novel. He studied Polyphony and Painting and has a fascination for Georgia, so much so that he moved there, married a Georgian girl and has become Mr. Georgian Wine in no time at all. He speaks of all the different families who have made wine through thick and thin over centuries whom he has now encouraged one by one to make a go of it commercially.

Their products are all unique, using many different grape varieties and methods. His practised and fluent seminar at the fair on Georgian wine was required listening. There was a decent and attentive audienc: those who had not attended were missing something important.

Georgian wines on show were more than ever before - 12 producers (Greece only fielded one). The point is that there are many Georgian producers who have never 'modernised' and so are eligible for the Real Wine Fair, their wines being organic and natural. Cutting edge within ancient practices indeed. The wines of these producers were obtained for 13 varieties;


Wines made from these grapes were for the most part produced in raditional Qvevri amphorae buried in the vineyard for up to 6 months. The resulting wines have immense interest and personality unlike the wines of other states in the larger region which may also come from an impressive variety of indiginous grapes but tend towards the bland in comparison, at least in our humble opinion.

Coming up to making our choices for the 2012/13 Slotovino Awards it is going to be difficult to imagine Mr. Wurdeman and Georgian wine not being winners in a number of categories and predictions.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Sounds amazing. Family trip to Georgia?