With just two weeks to go until the London Festival 2018, 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 (table numbers in brackets). The table layout should also help you plan for the day:
We welcome a host of superb wine producers to the festival, giving you a direct line to some of the world’s greatest estates. Let’s kick off with a home game, as Plumpton College (16), Nyetimber (20) and Wiston Estate (26) show that seriously high quality English sparkling wine now rivals the world’s best. From Italy, Zanotto (17) is a fascinating producer of ‘Col Fondo’ Prosecco – Prosecco that marches to a very different beat, more akin to ‘natural wine’. France is represented by some superb still wine and sparkling producers, with Champagne Deutz (11) and Champagne Piper-Heidsieck (14), two houses on top form, and Domaines Bonfils (5) presenting some gorgeous and affordable wines from their Languedoc estates. The Iberian Peninsula has a strong presence this year, with the fabulous Bodegas Roda (9) of Rioja, and three outstanding Port producers in the shape of Fonseca (10), Quinta do Noval (11), and Ramos Pinto (22). Hungary is a fascinating wine country, so don’t miss Zsadanyi Vinyards (23) and their range of Tokaji wines.
All around the world
We’re thrilled that some great global estates are joining us, kicking off in South Africa with a whole bunch of top names: Ken Forrester (4), maestros of Chenin Blanc will be there, along with nearby neighbours Grand Domaine (29) and Waterford Estate (38), showing their ranges of top quality red wines. On table 15 you’ll find two more Cape Estates, Seven Springs the English-owned estate making some lovely wines in the Overberg region close to Hermanus, and the historic KWV, founded in 1918 and today part-owned by one of the Cape’s Black Empowerment businesses. On the same table we can start our Australian adventure with de Bortoli superstar of the Yarra Valley, but we also welcome Fine Wine Partners (2), owners of six iconic Australian brands: Petaluma, Croser, St Hallett, Knappstein, Stonier and Tatachilla and Howard Park Wines (3) seriously top-end wines from Western Australia. Finally, South America is represented by Santa Rita Estates (30), who straddle the Andes with their Santa Rita and Carmen brands from Chile, and Doña Paula from Argentina, and Caballo Loco (31), super-premium terroir wines from Chile.
The One Track Minds
Some of our exhibitors are highly specialised, so a visit to their stands at the Festival is a fantastic chance for an in-depth exploration of certain regions or styles with the friendly experts behind the tables. I am on record as saying Portugal is one of the most exciting wine countries on earth, and we have not one, but two Portugeuse specialists showing 24 terrific wines: Grace Wines (28), representing select estates from Portugal with white, red, sparkling and Port wines, and Portugeuse Vinhos (36), featuring independent estates that they represent exclusively in the UK. We have a trio of Italian specialists for your enjoyment, kicking off with When in Rome (4), whose 2.25-litre boxes of beautifully-crafted fine Italian wines are also good for the environment, then Bat & Bottle (6), where cricket-mad Ben Robson imports directly from some top, artisan Italian producers. R&D Selection (37) is an Italian wine importer who say their ‘real home’ is in Puglia, showcasing this region’s wines. Not only does l’Altre Vi (13) specialise in wines from Catalonia in Spain, but all of its wines are organic or biodynamic – as are those from The Organic Wine Club (23) of course. Real specialism can be found with Go Brazil Wines (18), the only UK company to specialise in wines from one of South America’s emerging star nations. Specialism of a different kind from The BIB Wine Company (12), whose range of serious, high quality wines all come in environmentally-friendly 2.25-litre boxes. Wines of Hungary (25) will be pouring not just Tokaji, but a whole array of white and red, dry and sweet styles, from across the country, and the friendly family behind Tilley’s Wines (38) began by importing characterful wines from Australia, and that’s where they’ll focus today.
The World of Choice
Others among our roll-call of 44 superb exhibitors are demonstrating the breadth and quality of their range, spanning everyday drinking to special occasion splurges. I’ll kick off with everyone’s favourite, The Wine Society (1) with not only the classics, but fine wines from Bulgaria, Turkey, and Hungary, then globe-trotting Barwell & Jones (5) spanning Chile to Portugal and Spain to South Africa. The Vino Beano (7), will be pouring everything from new-wave quality Lambrusco, to artisan Californian wines. Over at Rude Wines (21), they promise not to be too rude, but do promise some real discoveries, including Portugeuse Pinot Noir and wines from the Judean Hills in Israel. At Majestic (24) you’ll find some fabulous Sherry just in time for Christmas and fine wine from the Lay and Wheeler portfolio. Make sure to investigate Richmond Wine Agencies (34), who represents some cracking producers including Chateau d’Esclans of Provence and Mount Difficulty of Central Otago. From Vineyards Direct (35), will pour from their range of hand-picked and directly imported wines at very good prices. With us for the first time this year, Slurp (27) is an online company who have selected a dozen from their 900-strong range, with some top Rhône and Burgundy wines for example. Let’s finish with a duo of independent wine merchants, also joining us for the first time in London: Cadman Fine Wines (33) have a brilliant and extensive portfolio, try their Cru Beaujolais, high-end Verdicchio and boutique Marlborough estate, while Club Vinifera (39) offers not only a carefully curated portfolio, but organises fabulous membership events too.
Learning, tasting, enjoying!
Master Sommelier Matthieu Longuere of Le Cordon Bleu (22), will show you why their London wine programmes are some of the most innovative and professional in the UK (and let you take part in a blind-tasting challenge), while Plumpton College (16) is the UK’s centre of excellence in professional wine education and will discuss how to turn a love of wine into a successful career. Last – and certainly not least – The Grand Cru Club (8) has just launched and is open to just 100 wine lovers who are looking for a very special wine experience.
It’s going to be an 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.