We’re back! RAW WINE, the UK’s avant-garde artisan wine fair, returns to London on the 18th & 19th of May…
The world of natural/organic/biodynamic wine will be descending once again on the Old Truman Brewery, on the fringe of London’s financial centre, on the 18th & 19th May this year.
Tickets are now on sale. Like last year Sunday is open to both the public and trade, whereas Monday is a trade only day until 5pm when a lucky few individuals will be able to join for an evening’s tasting as well. Unlike last year though, which to everyone’s dismay closed a little too promptly at 8 pm, this year the Monday evening session will stay open to 8:30! Please note, that places for this Monday evening session for the public are extremely limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so get cracking.
We are delighted to announce that this year our Charter of Quality is even stricter than in previous years, particularly where sulphites are concerned. This means that no wines coming to the fair will have more than 70 mg/L total, and there are lots of growers who use none at all! So there will be plenty of opportunity to taste proper natural wine.
We have an exciting collection of growers attending from around the world – in fact, 120 growers have already confirmed their attendance and counting… including a trio from Oregon in the USA, which we are very excited about. There’s also a great bunch of Champagnes back again this year, including Franck Pascal, Fleury, Vincent Couche and Laherte Frères, as well as a dozen or so growers who produce natural sparklings so we’ve decided to dedicate this newsletter to these “Bubbles of Joy” (see below) and check out our RAW WINE Sneak Peaks (also below) for a couple of great tasters to try.
RAW WINE Vienna’s website (and tickets) will be going live next week and there are a handful of growers who are planning on being at both so if you can’t catch them in the UK, head east on the 15th June! In the meantime, though, you can find out about new growers coming to London and/or Vienna by joining us online on Facebook and Twitter.
In the meantime, happy Pancake Day, from all of us here at RAW WINE.
Bubbles of Joy
As our friend of Nick Barnard (from Rude Health) told Isabelle (creator of RAW WINE) a few weeks ago over supper, humans are apparently hardwired to like carbonated drinks, which doesn’t really surprise us since there is nothing quite as quaffable as good bubbles. Classics like Champagne have always been a favourite with drinkers but sparkling certainly doesn’t stop there. In recent years natural sparklings have exploded onto the wine scene. There are pet nats (or pétillants naturels) from the Loire, the Languedoc-Roussillon, Alsace, even Burgundy. There are Col Fondos from Prosecco country, proper Lambruscos, even Franciacorta fizz. Further afield Austria’s in on the act as is South Africa, and what makes the style even more appealing is that it comes in all colours (white, orange, pink and red), pressures (meaning more or less fizz) and styles (from ones with residual sweetness through to bone dry).
Pet nats in particular make for really interesting drinking in this respect. As Isabelle explained to us at the office, “what’s really exciting about them is that you can follow the development of the wine as the sugars get fermented out – open a bottle that might have a touch of sweetness one day because of residual sugar at bottling, open another example 3 months later and it will be bone dry.” They are extremely versatile drinks, perfect at any time of the day (except perhaps breakfast) and can hold their own against a wide variety of food. They also offer extraordinary value for money, some a fraction of the price of Grande Marque Champagnes, whilst offering far better quality.
The only drawback is that natural sparklings are usually made in tiny quantities, often in batches of 2000 – 3000 bottles so they disappear at speed. Sebastien Bobinet, for example, a great natural grower from the Loire who will be at RAW WINE London again this year, created a sparkling red called Rififi that Isabelle stocked at Elliot’s the restaurant she consults for in Borough Market. “Everyone went mad for the stuff – staff, customers, chefs…, we couldn’t get enough of it”, explains Isabelle. “And like all good pet nats once they’re gone, they’re gone, which in the case of Rififi was pretty literal since Sebastien has not produced it since!”
Also produced in tiny quantities are the grower Champagnes, fine examples of which are attending RAW WINE London & Vienna this year. These artisan growers are particularly remarkable, not just for producing delicious examples of one of the world’s favourite drinks but also for championing organic and biodynamic viticulture in a difficult, marginal climate. “Champagne is one of the most polluted vineyard areas in France”, explains Isabelle. “Grapes here are so valuable that chemical spraying is a sort of insurance policy “. The growers at RAW WINE, therefore, are pioneers, heroes who battle through against the odds, producing exquisite drinks many in minute quantities. “Franck Pascal, for example, who I was speaking to a couple of weeks ago, gets yields that are almost 4 times lower than his conventional neighbours.”
At RAW WINE we are delighted to be hosting a hugely diverse selection of these great wines so come along and try them for yourself!
Sparkling Crib Sheet
There are various ways of getting the bubble in the bottle of which the most common in terms of RAW WINE growers are:
- Most well known way of creating fizz (used in Champagne, for example).
- The grower first creates a still wine (called ‘base wine’), which is then bottled together with yeast and sugar (or native yeasts and natural sugars in the form of grape must) to cause a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This creates the CO2. The dead yeasts cells (lees) are then disgorged (jettisoned out).
Ancestral Method – aka ‘Rural Method‘
- Probably oldest recipe for producing bubbles.
- Fermenting grape juice is bottled so that the CO2, given off as the yeasts convert the sugars into alcohol, is trapped in the bottle.
- A tricky process requiring great skill as if bottled to early the whole thing risks exploding. Growers have to bottle the juice at a specific density to achieve the right pressure, alcohol and sweetness.
- There are often slight variations between bottles, and, depending on the stage of their development, some may have residual sugar.
RAW WINE sneak peaks
Nothing like a little glass of sparkling to celebrate the imminent arrival of sping, so we asked Isabelle Legeron MW, our crazy French woman at the office, for a little wine + pancake matching tip for one final blow-out before Lent.
I decided to cook waffles this morning instead of pancakes and instead of using a normal batter mix, I used my sourdough culture. The results were wonderfully fluffy with a sour finish, which would work really nicely as a sweet or savoury snack this evening with either of the following natural sparklings that I drank recently and that you will be able to try at RAW WINE London:
This new, sulfite-free cuvée (sporting the brand new Col Fondo DOCG) would be great with waffles topped with ham, spinach and grilled cheddar. It is a prosecco with legs. It’s got enough freshness to be able to handle the slightly heavy, stodgy side of the dish but enough complexity to cope with the melted cheese notes as well.
For something completely over the top that would go deliciously with the sweeter waffles. This wild wine started life as a skin-macerated orange gerwurzt in a Georgian qvevri but when it didn’t fully ferment, Stéphane Bannwarth put it in a sparkling wine bottle where it carried on fermenting and making bubbles. It’s so good. In fact, I am actually going to have a glass myself this evening as an apéro with a drop of the rose syrup I made last autumn. Yum.