The 271 bus takes me from Manor Gardens to Old Street. It is a twenty mts. walk to Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane and the first London Artisan Wine Festival. A bored security man stands at the bottom of a narrow flight of stairs, which takes me to a large aircraft hanger-like room with rows of tables with bottles of wine on them. A girl in a white T-shirt with the red RAW logo at the reception desk attaches my wrist to a red identity band. She has two Chinese characters tattooed on the back of her neck. I collect a tasting glass and walk towards the first table.


Most of the Georgians seem to be from Kakheti and were showing mainly Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. They look bored and chat softly. The man from Albert Mathier & Fils tells me that I must taste the Saperavi from Shavnabada Monastery’s Cellar and introduces me to the winemaker – a big bearded man in a black tunic. I find the wine too extracted, astringent and unpleasant. I chat with Eko Glonti in Russian and talk about Georgian wine and Russian poetry, which he adores. I sip the Lagvini 2011, a Rkatsiteli he makes with Isabelle Legeron MW and soon to go on sale at £15 – £25. It is soft and does not seem to have the tannic harshness from prolonged skin contact that most Georgian whites have.


“Good to see you again” Nicolas Joly shakes my hand. I last saw him over ten years ago at Coulee de Serrant. Does he really remember? He pours me the Les Vieux Clos 2009, an AOC Savennieres before allowing me to reach for the Coulee de Serrant 2009. It has 62 mgs. of sulphur. “Nothing wrong with a bit of sulphur” he tells me. “As long as it is natural sulphur, preferably from a volcano.”


The thin, tall girl at Nikolaihof smiles broadly. I taste the full range of Gruner Veltliner and Riesling but the wine that stands out is Neuburger Burggarten 2009, a lovely wine with sweet fruit and fine balance. “Do visit us in the Wachau again” she smiles.


David Leclapart’s much talked about champagnes are over £50 and are hard to get hold of. I find them difficult to taste and even more difficult to drink; the taste of dead yeast predominates. He makes only 3000 bottles each vintage. “Send me an e-mail when you are visiting Champagne next” he tells me.

Vintage Blanc de Meuniers is rare but Champagne Tarlant’s La Vigne D’or 2003 is stunning despite the hot and difficult year.


Christopher is manning the Josmeyer stand. He is now a major shareholder of the Domaine. We chat about new developments and future directions.

Marc Kreydenweiss Kastelberg Riesling 2007 lacks power and definition. I have always liked this Grand Cru but 2007 was not a great year and the wine is disappointing. I remember pleasant walks in the vineyard near Andlau.

A Living Earth

Claude Bourguignon struggles in a room with terrible acoustics to explain why each element in the soil is fundamental to the expression of terroir as a whole and I struggle to hear and understand.

Duck Soup

I eat broad bean salad in a flat bread cone with a Lebanese yoghurt dressing from Duck Soup for lunch and sip espresso from the Coleman Company. “Expensive” the man next to me says.

As I walked down the narrow stairs, a man with a Chinese woman stops me. I am a winemaker from Tuscany he says. “What do you think of the show?” he asks me. “I came yesterday as well and I find a certain lack of elegance,” he continues. It is not Decanter or LIWF but it has its charm and honesty and deserves to be a success.

Well done Isabelle I thought, I’ll be back.


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