Thoughts From The Real Wine Fair 2014
As the dust settles on The Real Wine Fair and Real Wine Month 2014, I’m finally getting around to writing up my notes from a fantastic two days in Tobacco Dock. Over the next few blog posts I’ll be writing about amphorae; an eye-opening Primitivo from Puglia; some sensational red wines from Sicily; and a delicious orange wine from Emilia Romagna. Before all that though, here are some of my thoughts from the fair.
Drink Me!: Call it what you want. Drinkability. Moreishness. That ‘fuck another glass, pass me the bottle’ factor. All my favourite wines had it in spades, be they white, orange, rosé, red or sparkling. These were wines for drinking, and there were so many of them. That’s not to say that these wines were lacking in complexity. Far from it in fact; some of the most profound, ethereal, energetic and beguiling wines were those that kept you yearning for more.
The Tasting Note Is Dead! Long Live The Tasting Note!: Many wines at the fair highlighted the futility of common tasting note speak. They were just too hard to pin down in a walkabout tasting environment. Maybe they aren’t destined to be pinned down at all. It ties in with my belief that these wines are meant to be savoured and, most of all, drunk over the course of an evening. Most of my notes focussed on texture, structure, weight, intensity and overall enjoyment factor rather than obscure aromatics. Never have I been more convinced that a system of descriptive smiley faces would be of far more benefit than a listing of random fruits which are more likely to have emanated from the perfume doused woman beside you in any case.
Dogma: In my profile of the Real Wine Month I wrote that The Real Wine Fair wasn’t about dogma. Never was that more apparent than with the growers who altered their vinification practices and produced entirely different, but no less delicious, wines from one year to the next. Particular standouts in this regard were Anna Martens (Vino di Anna Bianco) and Cristiano Guttarolo (Primitivo Amphora).
I should be careful about lauding growers for their such practices actually, since the latest jibe I overheard at the fair was that the natural wine movement is overly focussed on winemaking. Sometimes you just can’t win.
Zucca: Great food on both days from Bermondsey Street’s finest. After my early start in Dublin airport on Sunday morning, my Zucca lunch of ox cheek and polenta was like manna from heaven.
Amphorae: Have I finally ‘got it’? Will I forsake oak barrels forever more? The purity of flavour and freshness achieved by some of the wines that were fermented and aged in amphorae, qvevri and tinajas was truly breathtaking. Particular highlights included wines from Rafa Bernabé, Cristiano Guttarolo (again!), Azienda Agricola COS and Elisabetta Foradori.
Colours: Peaches and oranges; golds and rubies; garnets and crimsons – the palate of vibrant colours in these wines seemed never-ending. Imogen Brennan’s brilliant video describes them far better than I can in words.
Wapping: Needs a tube station.
Red Trousers Vs. Beards: Beards easily won the day. Both days in fact, with red trousers only registering a solitary point on the Monday. And even he had a beard.