After leaving Liverpool Street Station it all went very wrong; we turned the wrong way, our new super-phones directed us as if we were driving, and the only person who knew where the the Old Truman Brewery was actually didn’t and told us to turn right instead of left! So after thirty minutes of aimlessly wandering the streets of London (we eventually went the route a car would have to go) we found Brick Lane and the Old Truman Brewery, the venue for the RAW Wine Fair. And what a fascinating place. The surrounding streets were full of people visiting the market on the ground floor and sampling gourmet delights from the many food stalls cooking fresh Chinese, Indian, Italian and countless other regional delicacies. The smells were incredible and I was slightly disappointed that I was so stuffed after breakfast.
The wine fair was being held on the first floor of the Old Truman Brewery. We entered the building through a side door, where we were then greeted by a very large security man who nodded at our tickets, walked up some non-descript stairs and into a large warehouse space, bright white, and not at all what I was expecting. After spending the day before at the Decanter event in the very grand Landmark Hotel it was quite a shock to the system.
There were tables stretching the whole length of the building, some had a couple of posters, most were very simple affairs, just a couple of wine bottles and a maybe a stack of business cards. One of the statements in the tasting book says that ‘RAW is unprocessed. It is about truth, authenticity and frank wine talking, but most of all it’s about showcasing really good wine.’ And this is what they were doing here; the wines, the people, everything stripped back to its bare bones leaving just the experience of the taste, flavours and aromas. And actually this rather stark building with its large open space and bright white walls was the perfect venue for tasting wines.
The first wines we tried were from Slovenia. At the Kmetija Štekar stand we tried their Brajda 2006 and Merlot Izbor 2006. Both wines were still very fruity on the nose. The Brajda 2006 (2/3 Merlot, 1/3 Cabernet Sauvingon) had spent three years in barriques and was spicy with good tannins. The Merlot Izbor was off dry and full of plums, black fruits with a slight jamminess. The wines were very nice and a pleasant introduction for me to Slovenian wines.
From there we tried a variety of wines from the Alsace. I am a sucker for Riesling and Gewürztraminer so I tried a range of these. Some were very typical of the grapes, others were slightly disappointing. Whether this was because they were natural wines I wouldn’t like to say.
As the bug I had was quickly wearing me down we decided to head home, but not before stopping at the Col Fondo stand. I had tried one of their unfiltered Glera wines the day before at the Decanter white wine and cheese matching event and was interested in trying the rest of their styles. Col Fondo make their wines in the ‘traditional Prosecco’ style of double fermenting the wine in bottle on its lees, which leaves a gently sparkling wine with sediment still in it. It kind of reminded me of cloudy apple juice. We tried the Costadilà Col Fondo 330 2010, Costadilà Col Fondo 280 2011, Casa Belfi Col Fondo 2010, Zanotto Col Fondo 2010 and the first ferment only Zanotto Doschei Col Fondo 2010 (a flat, tropical, refreshing drink). All were lovely in the own way, some were very typical of Prosecco (but we can’t say that, can we!) others would make good food wines. The sediment will fall if the wines are left but that would be a shame and would take away some of the texture of these wines as well as their uniqueness.
In all this was a good event, full of interesting wines and even more interesting people. I’m annoyed I had to leave early but I will definitely go again if they return next year as this is a great opportunity to try wines that are not normally on my radar.