Monthly Archives: May 2011
Quick blog today, but I couldn’t rest without writing about something on the Natural Wine Fair, which I attended yesterday in Borough Market.
‘Natural’ wines have received loads of press attention recently and not all of it hugely positive. For me, not having had the privilege to taste a large number of these so-called natural wines in one place before, I was more than curious to check it out.
I’ve had ‘natural’ wines before of course, mostly in restaurants, and to be honest I wouldn’t say I’d hugely enjoyed a great deal of this seemingly deliberately musty/sometimes oxidised style of wine. That, exacerbated by the frustration that there’s no set definition for ‘natural’ wine, meant that even though I was curious, my expectations of enjoying myself were not very high.
Now, I’m SO glad I went. Whatever these wines stand for, there’s no doubt that there were a number of damn good wines at the fair, wines that tasted fresh, bright, sometimes exotic, sometimes traditional, sometimes fascinatingly weird. And with engaging producers too, thankfully not the kind who want to ram the ‘natural’ wine message down your throat (again, I was sceptically expecting a bit of that).
In fact, some of these producers don’t even call their wine ‘natural’. So what do they call it? “Wine” one producer answered in all seriousness. Fair enough (that’s not meant to be a pun BTW)!
France was the largest representative by far, but as this fair proved, from the Loire to Sicily, this belief in uber minimal intervention and mind-bogglingly little chemical usage is growing apace across all of Europe.
For my part, no matter what they produce, what they call it or how they make it, I was just excited to meet passionate producers with both good and interesting wines. Tuscany’s AA Pian dell’Orino, Caroline Pobitzer & Jan Hendrik (Les Caves de Pyrène), Friuli’s Marco Sara, Udine (Aubert & Mascoli), Bandol’s Mas de la Rouvière (Yapp Brothers) and Roussillon’s Domaine Ferrer-Ribière (Yapp Brothers), are all awesome ambassadors of wine, whether it’s ‘natural’ or not.
PS – The fair is also on today and tomorrow – check it out!
Laptop left on plane notwithstanding, it’s been a fantastic, frenetic Sherry-fuelled week. This was the week of Jerez’s most important festival, La Feria del Caballo.
Going there is a bit like being transported to another time or another world. And even though the name of the event means it’s a celebration of horses, it seems to me that the food, Sherry, kaleidoscope of Flamenco dresses, dancing and the stamina to be able stay up until the early hours are equally important components.
This homage to all things Jerez is condensed into hundreds of colourful casetas (stands) in a Jerez park for one week of the year. In the thick of this public fair was Gonzalez Byass’ temple to Sherry, giving me the chance to try the about-to-be-released Tio Pepe En Rama.
A funked-up version of Fino, Tio Pepe En Rama is Sherry in a pure, raw form. It’s got a pretty short shelf-life of 3 months, but my God it’s delicious; refreshing, bursting with citrus and with a broad salty, nutty richness. A Fino fanatic’s Fino (I think that describes both the wine and myself).
Luckily, just before I left for Jerez, I managed to score 6 bottles of En Rama through Lea & Sandeman, yet another reason why it’s been a good week, and as fellow Brits scrambled to order En Rama back in the UK after tasting it at the feria, we heard that The Wine Society’s pre-orders have gone through the roof too.
So have we all gone Sherry mad? Apparently so. Jancis Robinson and Heston Blumenthal’s Sherry and tea event pulled in crowds in their hundreds in London on Monday, while Sherry bars in London like Capote y Toros and Bar Pepito have become the new place to meet and be seen. At last, Sherry seems to be getting the recognition it deserves, both as an aperitif and as a stonking food-matching wine. No surprises there, it’s a versatile tapas-matching dream.
Drinking Tio Pepe and dancing badly but enthusiastically for two consecutive nights until 4am only slightly took its toll, as the laptop left on the plane proves. But thankfully, some very kind person handed it in. I’m so grateful, if I knew who it was I would part with one of my En Rama bottles to say thanks.
On second thoughts, give up one of these little bottles of deliciousness? Maybe not!
A classic bright and juicy New Zealand Pinot Noir. Pure strawberry cordial aromas with lovely breadth and savoury flavours, a great match for the first of the summer’s barbies, bring them on!