Now, finally, we can talk.
Gianfranco Manca of Panevino, showing off the spirit at the London Natural Wine Fair. This, once baker from Sardinia's wines were gorgeous. Bottled not by name but barrel position in the winery. In the bucket was a field blend 'orange' wine that had a very deep rose color and plenty of tannin and so much crushed roses I was looking for bits of petals. Next to him was, oh, my god, Foti from Sicily. Joy.
Last week was the London Natural Wine Fair, a first in Borough Market, that foodie capital under the London Bridge. (though the best market I actually went to was Broadway Market in the East End in London Fields. Brilliant!)
All of you wine importers scrambling for territory take note.
One Master of Wine (Isabelle Legeron, the only MW who has made Vin Naturel her cause) Les Caves de Pyrene and a few other competing distributors banded together to show their wines, for three days in one space. They were vying for their customers, they showed their wines together. I know this state of bliss will not continue, but I am stunned at the sweetness, coming together for a common love of these wines. I would love to see Joe, Savio, Jenny and Zev and Jose come together in one tasting. But, who knows, as the end of the world didn't happen today, perhaps there's a chance.
This was a perfectly orchestrated tasting, held outdoors, which was appropriate as M. Chauvet always said, one should taste in the open air. We did. It helped.
In my last two posts I addressed some resistance to these wines by the press. Jancis had said that the wines really weren't a force in London until a year ago which isn't exactly the case. Afterall Puzelat was being sold in Oddbins, no? I also remember finding some delicious wines in restaurants in Clerkenwell in 2006, but the difference is no one was calling them Natural Wines, they were just wines. And that is what I was drinking when I started to focus on 'real' wines over a decade ago, just wines. Wines that I liked. Now that they have a name, no matter what the name is, they have become something to contend with, which has created a very curious situation.
These wines have been called trendy. The outcry against wines that show some oxidative qualities have been viewed as trendy, those cloudy wines are trendy. I have to pose the question; isn't a trend something you wear, or a pet rock, but is it something to eat? I mean, it might be trendy now to eat offal, but who isn't going to eat pig trotters, tripe, durian if they don't think it suits their taste?
I'll speak for myself here; trendy or not, if I don't like the taste, it ain't going down the hatch. (by the way, I never stopped loving that trend of the 90's pink peppercorns. Sure they were pretty but they are tasty, and today I applaud when someone has the nerve to use them.)
So maybe 800 people came because they read about the wines and wanted to experience them. But the enthusiasm and the innocent excitement just smacked of authentic response. Some of the wines are for everyone, but many are not. And it's a good thing. I have no desire to prosletyze, because the truth is, right now, there's not enough of these wines to go around for those of us who love them. So if Margaret Rand doesn't like them, that's okay with me. I was very dismayed to bump into one wine writer who attended the Frank Cornelissen dinner and didn't really love the wines (I like the idea of them more than the wines, he said) came over to me on the second trade day, filled with smiles and said, "This is really exciting."
And I thought, damn. The writer who said his readers weren't ready for the wines, has changed his mind.
Here's a little pictorial.
To my right is a gent from Burgundy (via Australia) having a happy moment with Ron and Elva of Jasper Hill, an Australian (Victoria)winery I have wrongly ignored but I have to say, mea culpa. Lovely wines. And Ron is one of those thoughtful guys, who rejected science (he was a disillusioned food scientist) and yeasted his first year and never again, works with unirrigated vines, and well, the wines work. Even the shiraz. Why are these wines not available on the east coast of the USA?
Sylvie Augereau up from the Loire kicking her heels up (or sitting on them) at Terroirs.
We are at the end of the fair, and the growers and organizers banded together for photo op.