I am almost overwhelmed. Since Thursday, I have been tasting almost continually. And two events in particular – the RAW fair on Sunday (above) and Monday, and the London Wine Fair on Monday through to today (below) – have been particularly intensive.
There is just so much wine in the world. That’s clearly a good thing. But the complicating thing is that the scale of wine production is quite small. Wine is best made by families, working on small, manageable properties of a few to several dozen hectares. Beyond this, it’s difficult to make great wine.
This is because wine is complicated. It relies on the right grapes, planted in the right place, tended with care, then – after picking at the perfect moment – being guided through the winemaking process skilfully. There is no recipe. Great wine is the product of a place, interpreted well by the right people.
The result? Thousands – or tens of thousands – of different wines in the market place. A bewildering array, ill suited to modern channels of distribution. As a wine writer, I can’t hope to know everything. I just have to content myself with telling some of the stories, and covering some of the wines.
Above all, this diversity of wine teaches us all to be humble in the face of wine. We are all students. There is no room for ‘experts’.
The RAW fair was quite remarkable, with an amazing array of wines. The subset I tried led to many surprises, and I came away energized. Yes, this is why I fell in love with wine!
The London Wine Fair is clearly more commercial in its scope, but it has brilliantly reinvented itself over the last couple of years. In the lovely setting of Olympia, it has lots to interest the wine geek these days – something that wasn’t always true in the past. There’s the great Esoterica selection, the undiscovered Wines Unearthed, and the high-end View Tastings. These are great innovations.
I found lots of stories in my 2.5 days spent here, and I could have found more, I am sure. It’s so exciting to be exposed to so many great wines, but there’s also a sense of regret that in this sort of timescale you can only really scratch the surface.