These things come around quicker than tax demands, and it starts the first of a few revisits I’m indulging in.
Last year seemed like a rushed affair because there was another tasting in the afternoon, but this time I’ve cleared the decks, emptied the calendar, and made sure that I can give it my full interest. I’ve not had a look at what’s on offer yet, but I’m sure there’s going to be more than enough to tickle my palate.
It’s being held in Olympia again, which is one of my least favourite venues; it’s a hike from a tube station and has all the warmth of an eskimo’s kiss. Still, this will not deter me in my efforts to find wines to enjoy, wines to savour and wines to lay down.
Of course I’ve got a tactic, and over the three hours I’m giving myself, it’s an hour of white and fizz, an hour of pink and red, and then a final hour of revisits and mopping up. I’m pleased with this plan, and know that if I can keep to it then I’m going to have a very rewarding visit.
I do worry how London is going to keep up with the mammoth event I witnessed at Vinexpo Paris, because while Olympia is a large hanger of a place, it’s nothing compared to the five or six large halls I wandered around in Paris.
There might be a greater variety of countries covered in London, as Paris seemed very pre-occupied with its homegrown talent (giving only a few small areas to the rest of the world). Last year, London was very cosmopolitan and displayed itself well, with a fine collection of wines from areas known and new.
I particularly enjoyed trying a spot of Welsh fizz and Indian wine. This makes me very optimistic, and as I write these words the tinges of excitement are growing.
At the end of the day, the plan failed, and I seemed to stick mostly with fizz and white, apart from the odd pink. It was a bit smaller than last year, as though the hopes and ambitions from last year, as we came out of Covid, have been exhausted.
The people were friendly, the wines were enjoyable and often undemanding, but apart from one or two areas it was mostly a lot of people chasing the same tastings. Next year I’ve decided that I’ll avoid anything familiar and head towards places where the wines have exotic names that call out to you and my tastebuds can wander into unchartered waters.
Among the highlights for me were the Monte Carlo Wines. Of course they’re pink, and of course they are entering a rather overcrowded market, but the enthusiasm from the lady who took care of the stall was evident. It was pleasing to hear that there’s been a lot of interest, and I do hope that interest translates into sales. They have three pinks on offer and each was a little different in taste. I preferred The Prestige (review below).
I was ambling along looking for adventure when a woman invited me to come and see what was on offer, and from where I was standing it resembled a series of flasks that looked like they might be taking on Coravin. Turns out that this is a slightly different beast designed to aerate wine and bring those flaccid glasses back to life. If you're interested to know more, I've put information in the 'To Buy' section.
I was about to leave when she handed me a leaflet. The company are based in Colchester, not far from where I live. We chatted about shared links, and I promised to visit and actually get to know more about what is going on. All I can say is that the glass she treated her 'Winewizard' with was pepped up after she’d used her device on it, and I’m thinking that this might be something worth knowing more about.
Some I Enjoyed
This was a little bit difficult. There were a lot of stands (nowhere near Paris) and plenty of wines on offer, but I didn’t try nearly as many as I hoped I would. Come on Harries, you either need to be at this event longer or give up!
Amb Pells Brisant – 2019
It’s a white grenache, and on the nose there’s an enveloping floral note of perfume. I’m sure I’m getting a field being kissed by a summer sunshine.
The taste is yellow apple that pungently lies fallen below the tree.
5 out of 7
Bread and Butter Chardonnay – 2020 Napa Valley.
I love trying something from California at these events, and a slight oaky/woody vibe on the nose tells you of its origins.
When you taste you get bags of green fruit and citrus.
6 out of 7
They say that this is an amber wine and I’m not going to argue. It has a delightful creamed Apple Charlotte perfume.
The taste is tangerine and mandarin oranges juggling for supremacy.
5.5 out of 7
Domaine Carneros – 2019 Napa Valley
The mousse on this fizz is long and vibrant, and on the nose there’s cooking and baked products like pastry, brioche and yeast.
The taste is lively lemons and charming citrus.
6 out of 7
La Reve – Domaine Carneros 2013
The mousse is lively and long, and as I sniff I’m getting baked apples, yeast, brioche, and then I taste and the big green fruit flavours come along and the fruit tastes wonderful baked even more.
6.5 out of 7
Monte Carlo Wines - Azur Rose.
The nose is a charmingly floral (like an acacia) with accompanying light red fruit.
The taste is baby strawberries, red currants and raspberries.
5 out of 7
Monte Carlo Wines - Prestige.
This is punching above its weight and displaying well.
The scent is lovely light red fruit that is delicate and nuanced, and you can tell that the hand of Monte Carlo has been guiding this.
In the mouth there's rich red fruit on a bed of straw, and a feeling that one could get through a bottle of this quite easily.
5.5 out of 7