London’s two big natural wine fairs last month attracted some 5000 people, according to organisers.
Both held over the same weekend at the end of May, RAW and the Real Wine Fair showcased natural, organic and biodynamic wines as well as artisan food.
‘Natural’ wine, a controversial term, has no exact definition though it is generally taken to refer to wines made not only with organic and biodynamic principles in the vineyard, but also with minimal to no manipulation in the winery.
RAW, according to organiser Isabelle Legeron MW (pictured), was attended by just over 3000 visitors – some 1900 from the wine and restaurant trade and around 1100 paying visitors.
The two-day fair, supported by organic and biodynamic organisations La Renaissance des Appellations and VinNatur, and Sud de France and the Georgian Government, took place in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in the East End of London.
There were 206 producers at RAW, dominated by Europe with France and Italy well represented. Georgia sent nine wineries but only five came from the southern hemisphere. Legeron said there were 50 producers on the waiting list.
Speakers at RAW seminars included Nicolas Joly, Claude Bourguignon, Monty Waldin and Julia Harding MW.
The event drew some enthusiastic responses. Emily O’Hare, sommelier at the River Café in London described it as ‘one of the best wine fairs I’ve ever been to. A real game changer – the space – cool and bright and big, the food – classy and coffee delicious, and the wines, well, I always knew they’d be top.’
Meanwhile in Bloomsbury the Real Wine Fair (pictured) attracted over 180 growers from 14 countries, and over 2000 visitors, ranging from ‘private consumers to all aspects of the trade, with visitors from countries including South Africa, Norway, Canada, Japan and Australia,’ organisers Les Caves de Pyrene said.
More than 800 organic, biodynamic and natural wines were exhibited.
Speakers included leading writers and critics such as Alice Feiring, Jamie Goode, Monty Waldin and Max Allen, growers such as Olivier Cousin, Tom Lubbe, John Wurdeman and Craig Hawkins, as well as film-maker Jonathan Nossiter who introduced a new version of his 2004 film Mondovino, which has been released in ten 1-hour episodes.
One critic, Will Lyons of the Wall Street Journal said that after initial scepticism he was impressed by the fair.
‘I really loved it. I didn’t think I would as there is a lot of nonsense talked about natural wine, but the enthusiasm, intelligence and in some cases the quality of the wine, really inspired. These are farmers, making a living and selling their wine, and that really appealed. It was like a farmer’s market for wine.’
Written by Adam Lechmere, and Jim Budd