Did you miss the Real Wine Fair at Tobacco Docks from 17-18 April? Still not sure what ‘Real’ wine actually is? Well put down that glass of distinctly average plonk from the supermarket reduced section (we all do it) and discover an approach to winemaking that favours both flavour and the environment. And the best thing? No hangover! Yes you did just read that correctly.
With over 150 ‘Real’ wine producers from around the world presenting their wares, The Real Wine Fair certainly gave plenty to choose from. Here’s our low-down on what ‘real’ wine is all about and some of our favourite (and more, er, interesting) wines from the day.
What is Real Wine?
Organic, natural or biodynamic wine made using minimum chemical and technological intervention, plus vineyards are also hot on using environmentally friendly farming methods to preserve the soil. Sounds a bit hippy, but the taste is just as great and the process is better for you and the planet – so we can all get blissfully trollied with a clear conscience.
And What’s This About No Hangover?
Most wines are made with additives, including sulphites, to protect the wine from oxidation or spoiling, and it’s the sulphites that (supposedly) give you that pounding headache the next day. So, no sulphites means no hangover! If that isn’t enough to get you drinking real wine, we don’t know what is…
Just a stone’s throw away in Enfield, the winemakers at Forty Hill Vineyard is currently the only vineyard in London, as well as being the first producers of wine in the capital since Roman times (a missed opportunity in our opinion). We tasted its 2015 Ortega, with peach and white current notes, and the 2015 Bacchus, which was citrusy and floral – both were delightful and made us proud to be Londoners. Flying the flag for the Welsh was Ancre Hill Estates from Monmouth, which uses natural herb tea sprays rather than fertilisers or pesticides, and the 2014 Chardonnay went down a treat.
Georgia: Where Wine Originally Comes From (we were surprised too)
As well as having unpronounceable names, Georgian wine certainly tastes different from your run-of-the-mill Pinot. Unlike other wines, it’s aged in clay pots, or ‘qvevri’, which are kept underground to maintain a constant temperature. We tasted Real wine from the Okro’s Wines cellar, run by the Okurashvili family in the Kakheti region. The 2014 Mtsvane had somewhat of a kick, although we were assured that Georgian wines taste better in Georgia as they don’t travel too well (pity – looks like we’ll have to go there in person).
Back in more familiar terroir (couldn’t resist), a particular favourite of the day was the 2011 Vigne alle Nicchie from the Pietro Beconcini Agricola. This winery uses only indigenous local grapes, and the Vigne alle Nicchie is rather charmingly made from tempranillo grapes originally brought over from Spain by pilgrims en route from Santiago de Compostela. It has a spicy depth and notes of liquorice, black tea, dark chocolate and rosemary. Making those pilgrims saints in our eyes.
Converted? Here’s Where to Get your Own Fancy Stash
The Real Wine Fair’s website has a handy online shop with a good selection of wines that will get you started. Equally, if you’re keen to learn more, check out the ‘Meet The Artisans’ section of the website where you’ll find write-ups on all of the winemakers that visited the fair and links to websites. Find out more about www.therealwinefair.com