Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The 2016 Real Wine Fair

The 2016 Real Wine Fair held at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, London on April 17th and 18th was amazing for the number of strands mentioned in this blog drawn together in one place at one time and many others undreamed-of  to astonish and delight in their unexpectedness.

For us personally it was the presence of Matthew Rorick of Forlorn Hope that summed up the greatness of this fair. We venerate no vigneron more than Mr. Rorick, a poet among winemakers. His work with a large number of grape varieties from an area not associated with diversity is marvelous. He calls his wines 'Rare Creatures.' He himself is the rarest of creatures seeking out and finding mostly old plots of vines sometimes planted by immigrants who had brought their wines with them from the old country. From these grapes he makes a wide variety of natural wines in small quantities. Acting on a tip-off from Andrew Jefford, we originally importuned him sur place near Fairfield, California as he was about to get a vintage in just to ask him where we could buy his wines. Subsequently we were delighted to see they had made their way to New York, but to see them in London was thrilling. Les Caves de Pyrene have taken them on. All hail to them and to Matthew Rorick.

Also surprising and thrilling were the following;

La Garagista (Vermont) list of grape varieties
1. Some of Forlorn Hope's colleagues from California, Oregon and Vermont. Vermont? Yes, and what is more, a farm responsible for some delightful, memorable wine from Minnesota hybrids developed by Elmer Swenson such as Frontenac and La Crescent.

2. A memorable talk by Wink Lorch on Jura with the participation of two great winemakers there, Kenjiro Kagami of Domaine des Miroirs and Julien Mareschal of Domaine de la Borde. Wink Lorch is the author of the only book on Jura wine published in the English language.

3. The presence of Adam Hegyi and Julia Kalo. We thought we had made a major discovery when we found Hegyi-Kalo at Terroir Club in Obuda a few months ago and heralded them in this blog as if no one else would have known about them, much less than they would pop up in London E1W 2SF just a few months later. It reminded us of the opera scene in America where a tenor only has to hit a good high note in Wichita to have worldwide representation the next day from a New York agent.

4. Forty Hall Wines. Forty Hall is in Enfield, a borough of London, within the M25 ring road. It is the first commercial scale vineyard in London since the middle ages. Not only that, their wines are very good!

5. Particularly mind-blowing for us was the discovery of an excellent wine from our own accursed Triomphe d'Alsace - the grape we landed ourselves with in the early 1990s when it was recommended for UK vineyards. The only problem was that until tasting this example from Ancre Hill, we had been convinced that it was impossible to make drinkable much less good wine from Triomphe - even in blends. An inspiration.

These are each worth a separate entry but to encompass the fair as a whole, it should be mentioned  that other events and seminars has included a Q and A session with Alice Feiring no less, a talk by John Wurdeman on Wine and Geogian Folk Culture, 'The Strange Appeal of Natural Wine' with Jamie Goode and 'Enjoying and Using Pure Sake' by Richard Stevens and Honami Matsumoto. What a line-up!

Les Caves' Line Moullier
Usually we try to do a tour d'horizon of all the tables but this time we had concentrated only on the above few strands on offer. There is no telling what gems we missed out on but we only had an afternoon to be present. The fair was presented in association with Les Caves de Pyrene, Carte Blanche Wines, Portuguese Story, The Winemakers Club and Under the Bonnet with the Caves de Pyrene by far the most prominent. It says a tremendous amount for Les Caves that they are able to field, together with the others some of the best and most interesting natural wines and their producers from across the world. A huge effort from all including our former colleague in the music world, Line Moullier.

Here is a list of some of the luminaries  present whose names were already well known to us, icons in many cases;

La Stoppa
de Bartoli
Salvo Foti
Chateau du Cedre
Mas de Daumas Gassac
Domaine Matassa
Domaine des Roches-Neuves
Domaine Le Clocher, Brendan Tracey
Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Thierry Puzelat
Bernabe Navarro
Iago Bitarishvili
Pheasant's Tears
De Martino
Kelley Fox

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