London wine week may have officially started on the 18th May but for those in the know, the celebrations began on Sunday 17th at The Truman Brewery in Hackney with The Artisan Wine Fair, or RAW. Hundreds of vineyard representatives plied their wares to happy customers, who were smug in the knowledge that the lack of sulphates in the natural wines meant that they would be clearheaded to take on the rest of the week when they woke up in the morning. We headed down to see what all the fizz, sorry, fuss was about…
The queue of thirsty punters stretches around the outside of the enormous building; we duck through the barrier (the perks of being press) and head upstairs to collect our wristbands and wine glasses before checking our coats and heading into the fray. I’m glad to see that the English wines have been given the premium spot, just next to the entrance, and we spend a long time chatting to the friendly Charlie Herring about his ‘large garden’ in Hampshire where he produces superb Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in small-yield batches. Davenport Vineyards provide us with a superb alternative to Nyetimber with his Limney Estate Quality Sparkling Wine, a truly impressive effervescent affair that marries Auxerrois and Pinot Noir grapes with aplomb.
We move around the world and charge our glasses at the Bolognese A di la del fiumes with the lovely hostess who chats to us about her hometown and pours healthy measures of the Saramat, Fricando and Dagamo wines, which are light ayet bold enough to be matched with hearty Italian food. Hopping across countries, we also speak to the purveyors of Tour Blanc, a French duo that are keen to recommend Provisions, a London wine and cheese merchant that specialises in the best bottles from around the world.
With all of the liquid that we’re pouring down our throats, we decide that we need something solid as well, so we head to the food area where we stock up on a charcuterie platter of epic proportions provided by Antidote Wine Bar matched with a cheese board by Kappacasein Dairy that soaks up a lot of the beautiful booze.
With stalls offering tastes of dark chocolate, aromatised wines, cider and beer from all over the world, this is one day that any food and drink lover should mark in their calendar each and every year. Gorgeous grog that won’t cause grogginess the next day – what more could we want?
David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer, one of our regular writers and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media
Photographs courtesy of RAW and Tom Moggach