London Wine Fair
Last week, we packed our bags (water ✔️ snacks ✔️ notebooks ✔️) and attended the 37th London Wine Fair at Olympia London. Our resident wine expert/sommelier extraordinaire, Angela, told us that it was going to be an intense and long day, but Caro and I were like "LOL okay!" and walked in thinking that nothing in the world could possibly be less difficult than sipping wine after wine after wine. Turns out even too much of a very good thing can still have its consequences and three hours in Caro and I found ourselves parked up at a sherry tasting with the amazing Matthew Hudson and all our senses were like "✌🏼 out, we're done for the day," And yet we persisted.
If we're being honest, we walked into LWF without much of a plan for the day. As two of us were newbies, we really just wanted to get a feel for the event and see where the day took us. It was our first event as Bottle Bitches and we were curious to see how people reacted to the name and the three of us. We wanted to keep our minds open, and the tactic worked because we walked outta there with a bunch of business cards tucked in our pockets and big plans a-brewin (fermenting?).
Overall, it was a brilliant day and we're even more excited than we were before (which was really excited) to start sharing more of our thoughts about wine here. Read our individual thoughts on LFW below and keep your eye out for more wine-tastic content coming to this space super soon!
ANGELA - The LWF Veteran + resident somm
I’ve visited LWF many times over the years, using the vast arena of wine tasting to hone my palate and try new wines to help me through exams and to indulge in master classes— I even braved it during the awful Excell arena years. My outlook on this year's fair was, as always, that I should’ve gone for more then just one day! But with stretched time and a small agenda I found it most insightful, as I also found last year. In the Esoterica section – the area “showcasing a vast array of the country's most innovative small-scale importers” I found that there were some truly interesting finds and thought Armenia and new Central Otago producers were highlights. As any veteran knows, day 3 often poses a few difficulties, especially with producers who are down to their last wine and it turns out to be an off wine! It’s a shame, because there was a Morellino di Scansano that was crying out for me that sadly didn’t make it past my nose.
The most interesting find I took away from this year was innovation. LFW seemed to up its game, replacing the standard awful looking ‘new packaging’ and ‘wine club’ concepts with great design, functionality and personality. (Look out for our upcoming post about the introduction to Pinot Pinot wine cans for a journey into innovative wine packing!)
My winning wine of the day had to be the Tasmanian Dalrymple 2014 Cave Block Chardonnay – a beautifully buttery wine with peachy and almond notes.
CARO – LFW Newbie + Resident wine snob
There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t indulge in that bottle we love, but hell, let’s not miss out on the gems that makers put so much passion into, as it may be our next favourite.
That’s a lesson I was reminded of yesterday.
Hungarian friends of mine had been boasting to me about the great wines one can find in their country. Being the snob I am, I listened, knowing I would only believe such fact after having experienced it myself.
Now let’s be honest, when I saw the “Hungarian Wines” sign, I did not rush - exploring the South African selection was my top priority. And as it often occurs, Angela led me there and, you guessed it, magic happened, with a wine that produced an explosion of tastes I had never experienced in a wine before. And bam, I’m in love, obsessively trying to source a bottle since last night (2013 Syrah from Villány, by Heumann).
When it comes to wine, be more than a bottle bitch, be a bottle slag!
PS: I'm not gonna lie, when I came home after trying all those different wines, I felt SO wined out I honestly thought I had put myself off of wine forever. Luckily, I got saved by a glass of Vinho Verde the next day. Close call.
KATE - Baby's First LFW + RESIDENT LOUDMOUTH
Tell someone you're going to the London Wine Fair and you'll generally find they say something along the lines of, "jealous!" or "your day sounds a helluva lot better than mine!" but let me tell you something: sipping, really-truly-tasting, and spitting wine for six hours is a lot more exhausting than you'd think. Fun? Certainly. But three hours in and my tongue was ready to call it quits. But because I'm doing the Lord's work as a Bottle Bitch, and because I'm also terribly afraid of Angela's disapproval, I stuck it out. And I was able to discover some truly awesome wines because of it! (Highlight: the Tara Atacama 2014 Pinot Noir, which has a story as interesting as it tastes!)
Let me tell you something else about LFW. If you're like me (i.e. an enthusiastic amateur drinker with no credentials to your name) you're going to get properly schooled in wine tasting. That's right, at LFW, tasting notes that read "It's sooo yummy" just don't cut it and when your senses keel over on their eighth lap, you have to come to terms with the fact that you need to up your game if you're going to run with this crowd.
I'm reading Cork Dork right now and like its author, Bianca Bosker, I'm tasking myself with the challenge of smelling the shit out of everything I come across, starting with my spice drawer. I'm going to make a sensory library to rival Sherlock's mind palace and one day when I sip a chardonnay, I too will smell almonds! (I mean, I guess almonds have a smell?) It'll be like that scene in French Kiss when Kevin Kline asks Meg Ryan to smell all this stuff in his box of bottled herbs and suddenly she's able to understand and taste the complexity of wine (oh my god, should we start a Bottle Bitches movie club?!) and it's going to be beautiful! Beautiful just like Meg Ryan in a 90s rom-com! Beautiful like the tastiest pinot noir! Beautiful like the London Wine Fair. Absolutely beautiful. I'm already so excited for next year!