Raw Wine – formerly known as Raw – is coming to London on 11-12 March. We caught up with Isabelle Legerone MW for a breakdown of what not to miss at the fair
Discover co-fermenting – there’s more to life than the grape!
A highlight of this year’s fair has to be the introduction of organic, artisan drinks made by fermenting various fruits together. So, whether you’re tasting a Swedish Plumenian Rhapsody made from Cortland apples, Victoria plums & Pinot Noir, or an apple-Chenin Pet Nat from the Loire, you’re sure to discover a new world of flavours.
Top tip: Don’t miss Le Bucce, grapehouse ale, from Italian wine grower Siemàn, made by adding Tai Rosso grape must to his beer wort.
Meet the completely natural brigade
If ever there was a time to put paid to the question of whether or not sulphite-free wines are worth it, it is now. With over 30 completely natural grower-makers attending the fair in person, and hundreds of completely natural wines to taste, you will experience how great viticulture, savoir-faire and patience can, and do, result in wines made naturally that are both fine and age-worthy.
Top tip: Check out the wines by the legendary Lorenzo Corino (of Case Corini), whose family has been making sulphite-free wines since the 50s. You would be hard pushed to find more compelling examples of Barbera & Nebbiolo anywhere.
Bag yourself an Alsatian...
Or a Georgian, a German or a Greek! This year almost half of the growers coming to the fair are looking for UK representation, which is exciting for two reasons: it is the perfect opportunity for merchants to find new aces for their portfolios and for somms to have a proper tasting adventure, exploring great wines that cannot be tasted elsewhere.
Top tip: Keep your eyes (or rather palates) peeled for an extraordinary trio from Alsace who make truly delicious wines: Domaine Clé de Sol, Domaine Geschickt and Domaine Laurent Bannwarth.
Get under the skin of heritage varieties
Above all, coming to the fair means getting to spend time with some seriously inspiring people from all over the world – farmers who, against all the odds, choose to champion the traditional over the easy. They are the sort of people who when the going gets tough, and you wonder why on earth you’ve decided to work in the drinks sector (which is something I am sure we all feel sometimes!), you think about what they do and it makes you fall in love with your industry all over again. These are men and women doing extraordinary things, who champion diversity over singularity and nowhere is that more evident than in their choice of the primary material that they cultivate.
The natural and low-intervention organic and biodynamic wine world is awash with indigenous, heritage grape varieties that are being rescued or brought back to life by its growers and makers. Check out Giorgi Natenadze (creator of Natenadze's Wine Cellar) who researches, identifies and propagates old Meskhetian vines in the Caucasus. Over 10 years he has gathered nearly 40 different local grape varieties (only 24 of which have yet been identified), from wild/abandoned vines aged between 100-400 years old! Or say hi to Sara Dionísio from Casa de Mouraz in Portugal, whose white Casa de Mouraz Branco 2017 is a veritable fruit salad of varieties – Malvasia, Encruzado, Malvasia-Fina, Bical, Cerceal-Branco, Rabo-de-Ovelha, Fernão-Pires, Uva-Cão, Síria and others!
Top tip: Look out for Marcin Wiechowski from Kwaśne Jabłko, a cider grower from Poland showing his drinks in the UK for the first time. 'We have 6ha of newly-planted orchards, made up of 120 different old Polish and north European apple varieties that we gather from old orchards and university banks, as we would like to rediscover forgotten apples that used to be commonly cultivated in this part of Europe but were almost lost because of big, industrial orchards'.