Regular followers will have read the first part of my article on the Real Wine Fair at Tobacco Dock last weekend (see here). There I concentrated on just three interesting producers who might not be among the most well known at the event. If I write about everyone I tasted and liked it would make for a very long (and perhaps dull) article. So here, in Part 2, I’m going to give a more general roundup of everything else (by country or region), sprinkled liberally with a few photos. Even then, with all the names mentioned here, I had to miss out so many, especially producers I know well. I didn’t get to taste any from Alsace, much as I like Mann, Frick and Binner, and I tasted few Loires, despite them being the first region for natural wines which sparked my interest all those years ago.
Beaujolais: Just a quick visit to these tables. I like Rémi Dufaitre (Dom du Botheland), having bought their wines in Paris last year, and I did really want to try the new vintages of Foillard and Lapierre. The Foillard 2014s are superb, especially the Côte du Py, and Lapierre’s Raisins Gaulois 2015, always a great value bottle, is excellent, and possibly a signal for this vintage.
Burgundy: A few seasoned naturalistas told me they were missing out Burgundy, but with four exciting domaines I have not tasted in depth for some time, I didn’t. Alice de Moor was there, showing her Aligoté (seriously good), a Chablis (Vendangeur Masque) and a lovely Ardèche Chardonnay 2015, just bottled and (I think) on its way right now. Domaine de la Cadette (Vézélay) make great little wines (in a good sense) from one of the Yonne’s least known regions. Try them all. Domaine du Corps de Garde (Jean-Hugues & Guilhem Goisot, Côtes d’Auxerre) are one of the first domaines I bought from Les Caves de Pyrene. Their wines are genuinely brilliant, often mineral and crystalline. Last but not least here, Julien Guillot’s biodynamic Vignes du Maynes (Macon) presented an exemplary range including some Beaujolais I’d not tried before. But the Macon-Cruzille wines (Aragonite white and Manganite red) represent the peak of their output, some of the most “living” wines in Burgundy (which also age well, indeed preferring a few years in bottle).
De Moor Alice
Les Vignes du Maynes
Jura: A massive array of Ganevats on offer (I counted ten at one time), but of course the fans were crowding around Anne (J-F’s sister) and her husband, making this one of the most difficult stands to taste at. You either adore this iconic producer or you wish he’d add some sulphur. I’m happy to be in the former camp, but I’m objective enough to see why cuvées like Madelon and “Y-à-Bon” scare some people. I did bring home some of the cheapish Le Jaja de Ben, which is one of his wines containing some of the ancient Jura cépages, plus Gamay. Ganevat makes this as a negociant wine, hence the price (about £15 UK retail), but it’s soft and fruity and might provide an intro for those who want to try him out. I’m increasingly enamoured with his Chardonnays above all others, but I missed out on the £50+ Cuvée du Pepe – I just hate crowds at tastings. A quick word too for Julien Mareschal of Domaine de la Borde in Pupillin. These look a good value range which I plan to explore in more detail.
Anne and husband, Ganevat (no Jean-François today)
Loire: Alexandre Bain was showing several different cuvées. Bain’s Pouilly-Fumés are guaranteed to get me back onto the Sauvignon Blanc. Jo Landron was showing his impressive moustache, and his Muscadets always get me excited. I was cross not to try those of Benoit Landron as I heard good reports. I had to shun a dozen producers I already know here, but I did visit La Coulée d’Ambrosia (Layon). A tasty pét-nat followed by some interesting Chenins (one made Vin Jaune style, sous voile).
For a detailed look at Nicolas Carmarans, See Part 1 (link at top of page).
Another fruitful exploration. I began the day with a good slug of cloudy Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from Floris Follador’s Casa Coste Piane (another bottle that came home on the train). Perhaps these wines are well known to many of you, but they are amazing. I only learnt recently that these cloudy Proseccos are known as Col Fondo (Mina Holland in #nobrot10). I have long loved the wines of La Stoppa (Piacenza). Fellow Blogger Alan March (amarchinthevines.org) said that the Macchiona 2007 was his wine of the day. I think it blends Barbera and Bonarda like it blends the flavour of black olives with smoky bacon aromas. A wonderful wine…but they make a great range, including stunning Malvasia, too. Bera (Canelli, Piemonte) have something in common with La Stoppa, my having discovered them on what may have been my first ever trip to Les Caves’ Artington warehouse near Guildford. Every wine here is a winner, but I adore their most frivolous – they make one of the best half-dozen Moscatos in the region. A first for me were the wines of AA Filippi from Soave, shown to me by Emma Bentley (another wine blogger and consultant). They have some of the highest vineyards in Soave, planted with very old Trebbiano Di Soave and Garganega. Very good value wines.
A more in depth tasting with Stefano Bellotti can be seen in Part 1 (link at top of page).
I will not mention the Sicilians, I love them all (including at the end of two months, I hope, Salvo from Agrigento who is managing the building work at my house). I wrote about Sicily here and I’d only be more or less repeating myself. That said, that article didn’t mention de Bartoli whose wines from Marsala and Pantelleria have to be tasted. Bukkuram, their Passito di Pantelleria, even comes in a (just about affordable) 25cl bottle, perfect for the train home, a dark unction of rare beauty. No Foradori, you ask? I confess, I forgot, but thankfully it’s coming to a wine shop near me very soon – the Pinot Grigio Amphora was wine of the day for another friend, and it would be hard to argue that anyone can do Teroldego better.
Emma Bentley for AA Filippi
Occhipinti Vino di Anna
The cream of the crop here included Forja del Salnès (Rias Baixas) – I think most people know their Cos Pés Albarino, but the whole range is impressive. I think in Spain they are better known for their reds. From a similar part of the country, Mengoba (Bierzo) were equally impressive. But the star of the Spanish cohort for me was Daniel Landi, whose Méntrida Garnachas from high altitude plots are possibly the most elegant wines from that grape I’ve ever tasted. Almost dumbfounded me. Daniel was also showing the more weighty but still massively impressive wines of Commando-G. My favourite here (not listed in the catalogue) was the high altitude Rey Moro parcel (2013). 14.5% alcohol rested very lightly on this wine. Again, last but not least, Recaredo‘s Cavas. This is how Cava ought to taste, and as with the Coste Piane Proseccos, this is as far removed from supermarket Cava as you can get.
Daniel Landi, star of Spain Commando-G
BEST OF THE REST
USA: Clos Saron (Sierra Foothills, California) make an interesting range and a few of their wines, the Blue Cheer Carignan/Cinsault, Out of the Blue Cinsault, and the Pleasant Peasant Carignan, are all of special interest (but they’re expensive). Beckham, and Kelley Fox, got good press elsewhere but I didn’t taste them. You can read about La Garagista from Vermont in Part 1 (link at top of page).
Australia: Patrick Sullivan was pouring (liberally) a selection of his own wines. I loved the wild and wacky “Haggis Wine” (“all the shit that isn’t good enough to go anywhere else” or words to that effect, said a slightly wobbly Patrick, but it’s bl**dy good nevertheless) and I was also taken with the “New World Wine”, a Pinot Noir/Malbec blend. Amazing labels here. Patrick was also pouring wine from some of his friends and I tried and loved the Barossa Shiraz “Romanee Tuff” from Tom Shobbrook (wanted to try that for some time) and Anton’s Domaine Lucci Wildman Blanc (late-picked Sauvignon Blanc with a tad of noble rot – seriously!).
Patrick Sullivan in full flow
Patrick’s Haggis and Tom’s Romanee Tuff
more Tom Shobbrook
There was so much more I didn’t get to try, including the Georgians (I’m told that the Sunday night party was so wild most of them never made it back for Monday), the Friulians (but seriously good), De Martino (Chile), and worst of all, South Africa (I can vouch for Radford Dale‘s value and for Testalonga). No, worst of all was my failure to taste any Austrians (you know how much I adore Austrian wine), but RAW will have Christian Tschida, Gut Oggau, Meinklang and Claus Preisinger for starters, so all’s not lost.
I hope you weren’t disappointed I failed to mention a favourite. I did my best though. Even after spitting most (but not all…) of my pours, and just one beer afterwards, I was just about in a good place for the journey home (focused on the need not to break any of my heavy stash). A great event, fun, lovely wines, if not for all tastes. One well established blogger said of the Loire cohort “there were gems but the hit rate was very low”. This only proves that we all have different tastes and different perceptions of how a good wine should taste. I think there’s a divide which would be hard to bridge between those who grew up on affordable wines from the classic regions, and those new to wine this decade who are just discovering how exciting the hobby can be. I don’t doubt that there is clever marketing at play with some of these clued-up and social media-savvy producers, but there is also no doubt that the producers here preach a different philosophy, which strikes a chord with a public more willing to experiment than perhaps at any time in the history of wine. Despite the prohibitive cost of most good wines from regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy, there have never been more interesting wines for the ordinary (non-oligarch) wine lover to try and buy.