After scoffing a lot of food downstairs at the MasterChef Live event we finally decided that we had better tear ourselves away and go upstairs for the reason we had come to London – The Wine Show 2011. The entrance to the show was being guarded by several burly looking men in dark suits – although I couldn’t decide if they were there to keep out any underage drinkers who might be tempted by the waft of alcohol emanating from the hall or to throw out those ‘adults’ that had succumbed to too much.
Our first stop was at the stand of a Bordeaux supplier. It was hosted by a very jovial gentleman who proceeded to pour us two samples of sparkling wine and six of white wine. After the first sip I looked around for a spittoon but could not find one – eight glasses later we had to leave the show and head back downstairs for more food to soak up the booze.
Our second attempt at the show went a bit better. We attended a Nyetimber tasting event where we had the opportunity to sample four of their current vintages – Blanc de Blancs 2001 & 2003, Classic Cuvée 2006 and Rosé 2007. Our host was the new sales manager, who was very confident despite only having worked in the wine industry for three months. My favourite was the Blanc de Blancs 2003 – it was citrusy, well balanced, light and the bubbles pleasantly danced in the mouth. On the other hand I did not like the 2001 vintage which I found had overpowering dairy aromas, but with a show of hands I was clearly in the minority disliking this one.
Entry to the show was included in the MasterChef Live ticket which meant a great opportunity to experience both events, but whereas the MasterChef show was in the huge hall downstairs, the Wine Show was in a small venue upstairs and did not have the space to cope with all the visitors. It became very hot and crowded after lunchtime and you had to be brave to fight your way to the front of the crowds to get samples at some of the more popular stands. Some of the stands which I had wanted to visit I didn’t bother with such as those sponsored by Croatia and New Zealand. There was also an overpowering stench of fresh paint in various parts of the hall, which I’m sure made the hall look good but was not conducive for wine tasting.
It was nice to see several English wine producers at the show. I particularly enjoyed the Bacchus 2010 from Shawsgate (http://www.shawsgate.co.uk/). I did not expect the aromas that came jumping out of the glass – it was incredibly floral with citrus and tropical fruit notes. It tasted very refreshing with gentle acidity, lots of citrus and good length. I have to admit to not having tried that many English wines but if they are all as good as this one that is something that will definitely be changing.
The Wine Show 2011 at Olympia was my first experience of a large wine event and although it was a great opportunity to try lots of new wines (I’m still undecided on the Alcyone from Uruguay), due to the overcrowding, poor air-conditioning and the smell of paint, it is not one I will be repeating.