I spent Monday at the RAW Wine Fair. It was a day that started well for me; driving to the railway station at 5am I was treated to a feast of wildlife sightings, including foxes in East Lothian fields, deer at the roadside and heron flying overhead. Surely it was a good omen, nature coming out to see me off to a tasting of ‘natural’ wines?
Umm….maybe. But if nature was on my side, modern technology wasn’t and as the train trundled southwards I learnt of delays ahead. I shan’t bore you with the details; suffice to say that due to damaged power cables I eventually arrived at King’s Cross, having swapped trains, two and a half hours late. That’s two and a half hours of tasting missed. A great disappointment.
I spent about 20 minutes wandering around Brick Lane trying to find the tasting, compounding my late arrival. It is partly my fault, as there was a banner over the rather non-descript door indicating where the tasting was being held. But it was not a huge banner, it has to be said. Inside, to be honest, I though the venue – the Truman Brewery – was looking rather the worse for wear…the effect of several days of busy tasting, perhaps? Happily, the quality of the wines – OK, some of the wines – more than made up for this.
Above, Nicolas Joly, who was as full of his usual rhetoric as ever. Naturally, I focused on the Loire, so Joly’s were just some of many Loire Valley wines I tasted. His wines were showing strongly, and were one of the high points of the tasting. Damien Laureau was also on fine form, his Savennières from Les Genets, Le Bel Ouvrage and Roches-aux-Moines all brilliant, and surely the best portfolio of wines I tasted all day. There were also great wines from Damien and Coralie Delecheneau of La Grange Tiphaine and Peter Hahn of Le Clos de la Meslerie (a great new discovery in Vouvray!).
There were also some real dogs of course, wines that are fine for those who have run out of fino and are looking for something to drink as an aperitif with salted almonds, before popping out for tapas. A great moment for sherry perhaps, but I’m not looking for a replacement wine in Touraine-Amboise Sauvignon or Chenin. As far as the Loire goes, the oxidative style rarely works, in my opinion. Not never works, as there were some where the wines were attractive (I surprised myself by enjoying the wines of Sébastien Riffault, for instance), but these are exceptions to the rule. There were also a number of reds displaying a really green and vegetal character, showing that no matter how honorable, ethical and environmentally sound the methods may be, some winemakers haven’t quite got the hang of waiting for the fruit to ripen before harvesting. I won’t dwell on these wines or domaines here, but I will be writing up all the domaines and wines – with no exceptions – on Winedoctor in good time.