With less than a week to go until the Edinburgh Festival of Wine, and all of our exhibitors having declared what wines they will be pouring, a brief run-through of just some of the wines that have caught my eye:
The Quirky and Off-piste
If you’re always on the search for new grape varieties, new regions and unexpected wine styles, perhaps kick-off at Table 28, Pomalo Croatian Wines with some fascinating indigenous varieties from Croatia, or Table 25, Southern Wine Roads, representing some of the most progressive producers of Greece. From Portugizac to Pošip and from Assyrtiko to Agiorgitiko, there are real experts behind the tables who will introduce wines that are as unexpected as they are delightful. More of the same awaits at Table 29, The Wine Line, Edinburgh-based specialist importer of Portuguese wines. Some names – The Douro, Vinho Verde – may be familiar, but explore from Tras-os-Montes to the Dão too. Three of Lebanon’s best estates are featured on Table 14, Château de Mediterranean, proving the quality of these high-altitude vineyards. Those attending our Cheese and Wine masterclass will experience eight terrific wines from sponsor and online specialist Rude Wines, but 12 more wines are on tasting on Table 26, from Israeli Syrah to Uruguyan red. The wines on Table 30, When in Rome, may be more familiar, but the format is not: selling only 2.25- and 5-litre boxes of wine, When in Rome is smashing preconceptions into a million pieces with sheer quality: try them and believe!
We’re delighted to have so many of the world’s best wine estates taking a stand at the Festival, some manned by the winemakers themselves. Kicking off in the Southern Hemisphere, a brilliant estate from Marlborough in New Zealand on Table 12: Kevin Judd’s Greywacke, and from South Africa we have the man himslef, Chenin Blanc Maestro Ken Forrester, who is not only behind stand 19, but presenting a sold-out masterclass too. Australia is represented by one of my favourite estates of Margaret River on Table 14, McHenry Hohnen, and the South American flag will fly high on Table 11 with Caballo Loco presenting their terroir-driven series of super-premium red wines from Chile. Please don’t think we’re ignoring Europe however! From France, two very important winemaking groups join us: on Table 5, Advini, the name behind Ogier of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Laroche of Chablis, and many more and right next door on Table 6 Bonfils Vins & Châteaux, which is a family company making superb wines in the Languedoc. Don’t miss Domaine of the Bee on Table 19, where owners Justin Howard-Sneyd MW and his wife Amanda will welcome you. They are based in the Roussillon area, and on Table 23, de Burgh Wines, neighbouring winemaker Andy Cook will be presenting his own wines under his Consolation brand.
With Christmas just around the corner we’ve gone large on sparkling wines, with the very best of France, Italy and England. Let’s kick off on Table 24 with Champagne Piper-Heidsieck, on a rich seam of form right now with some brilliant wines, and note they are opening the ultra-exclusive ‘Rare’ cuvee just for us. England’s sparkling wine superstar Nyetimber is on Table 18, and they’ll be pouring white, rosé and just off-dry wines – all equally fabulous – while Greyfriars Vineyards on Table 8 is a relatively new and very exciting name from the sparkling wine scene in Surrey, a family estate growing Champagne varieties. Finally, Prosecco fans must not miss Villa Sandi on Table 20: true aristocracy of the region with their range of quality wines.
Fine Wines Jewels
Of course every table at the Festival has superb ‘Fine Wines’ for your enjoyment, but I’ve picked out a few special wines that you must not miss: on Table 16, Raeburn Fine Wines will be sampling top-end Burgundy with Jean-Pierre & Isabelle Guyon’s Vosne Romanée, while Italian wine lovers can enjoy not one, but three Barolos (including a £100 per bottle single vineyard wine) on Table 13, Cru Privé. Italiophiles should also visit SWiG on Table 27 for an intriguing de-classified ‘super-Amarone’, but one of my favourite Portuguese estates, Fitapreta, is represented too. Black Dog Wine Agency on Table 2 represents superb estates from New Zealand, so visit to try four cracking Pinots or three lovely Rieslings for example. If the new world of organic, biodynamic and natural wines interests you, do not miss L’Art du Vin on Table 7, from a rare organic Prosecco, to organic Burgundy. Harvey Nichols store is minutes from our venue, and on Table 15 I love the selection of top South African wines on tasting from superstars Adi Badenhorst, Boekenhoutskloof and Topiary vineyards – owned by Philippe Colin of Burgundy’s Colin-Deleger family.
Christmas is Coming!
Our roll-call of 35 superb exhibitors demonstrates breadth and quality, spanning everyday drinking to special occasion splurges. So with the need for both over the festive season I have picked out some highlights. Many Festival-goers will already be members and make a bee-line for The Wine Society on Table 1, but if not, do taste the range of terrific wines on show from this wine-lovers’ institution. On Table 6, Barwell & Jones have a couple of wines from one of my favourite Portuguese estates, Herdade do Esporão, while if you haven’t tried Majestic‘s excellent quality range of classy upmarket own labels, head straight for them on Table 29b. Richmond Wine Agencies represents some cracking producers on Table 10 with three wines from Botham Merrill Willis, where the two cricketing superstars have a genuine hand in creating the wines along with ace winemaker Geoff Merrill. On Table 3, Lidl fits our theme perfectly, because they are showing 6 wines from the regular range and 6 previewing their Christmas specials, including Champagne and Vin Santo. Another High Street favourite is Oddbins on Table 17, who haven’t lost their eclectic touch with wines spanning grower Champagne to a highly unusual Pinot Noir blend from Germany. Local Hero Henderson Wines on Table 22 has a fun theme, all wines beginning with the letter P, from Pignoletto to Pinot Noir! Avery’s of Bristol have very well-honed online ordering, so Table 9 might inspire you to put together a Christmas case. I look forward to trying their Extra Brut Champagne and sweet Muscat Beaumes de Venise in particular.
Learning, trading, winning!
One of Edinburgh’s star wine educators will grace the Festival on Table 4, where Diana Thompson represents the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and can introduce their range of short courses leading to recognised wine qualifications. Last – and certainly not least – Festival of Wine Sponsor Wine Owners is on Table 31 and is for everyone who loves and collects fine wine, providing a unique online platform to manage your collection, track your wines and their value, and buy and sell with fellow wine lovers. What’s more, they’ll be running a fun and informal blind-tasting challenge: have a guess at identifying our mystery wine and you might win a bottle of Champagne!
It’s going to be am amazing tasting opportunity, and remember almost all of our exhibitors are offering exclusive discounts to purchase Festival wines at up to 20% off for purchases and home deliveries. See Exhibitors & wines.