At the Real Wine Fair

natural wine

At the Real Wine Fair


Yesterday and today (Monday), it’s the Real Wine Fair. This is one of two large natural wine fairs that takes place annually in London, and it’s completely, utterly fabulous. Around 150 winegrowers from around the world are gathered to pour their wines, and there’s also lots of food, and a seminar program. Sunday was the public day; today is the traded day.


I was taking part in the seminar program, with a session titled ‘The strange appeal of natural wine.’ Basically, it was a wide ranging conversation with Doug Wregg, who asked me lots of questions. We covered ground such as aesthetics, the interpretative role of the vigneron, whether you can score or rate natural wines, whether we have to assess wine at all, and also the limits and constraints of language – and how our words can get in the way of our perceptions.


I have a recording of it, but because it’s an hour long, I’m not sure how much of an audience there is for this! And there are some things we said that might have to be redacted…


I would have loved to spend more time here, because I was blown away by some of the wines I tasted. This is the living, pulsing heartbeat of the world of wine. This is the future of fine wine. People working more naturally, more carefully, getting in the way less, skilfully guiding and protecting the wine in its journey from the vineyard to the bottle. Not everything here, of course, is great – but there is just such a lot of amazing, personality-filled wine to be discovered at a fair like this.

Natural wine/authentic wine is not a fad. It’s here to stay.

Kelley Fox: great Oregon Pinots
Kelley Fox: great Oregon Pinots
Craig Hawkins: brilliant elegant South African wines from the Swartland
Craig Hawkins: brilliant elegant South African wines from the Swartland
Scott Frank, Oregon (Bow & Arrow)
Scott Frank, Oregon (Bow & Arrow)
Annedria Beckham, AD Beckham - distinctive lovely amphora wines from Oregon
Annedria Beckham, AD Beckham – distinctive lovely amphora wines from Oregon
Daniel Landi - brilliant Spanish natural wines - Garnacha with elegance
Daniel Landi – brilliant Spanish natural wines – Garnacha with elegance
7 Comments on At the Real Wine FairTagged
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

7 thoughts on “At the Real Wine Fair

  1. so all the other wine fairs that you go too are not Real wine at all but imaginary wine 🙂 Come on its marketing bullshit. OK no one wants to drink so called “industrial” wine but surely most wine made by the majority of quality producers is so called “real ” or “natural” or whatever other description you and others may want to give it.
    Is wine made by Mullineux,Sadie,Rall,Savage,Keermont,Lismore etc etc etc Real wine or unreal wine ?

  2. Maybe for the first time I fully agree with Keith! The only “difference” is, that I would name Pintas, Niepoort, Quinta Vale Dona Maria, Quinta do Vale Meao and so many others from my beloved Portugal…..:-)

  3. Leaving aside the contentious name, if you see the event for what it essentially is- a well marketed Caves de Pyrene portfolio tasting- you have to admire them. Rather than let les Caves determine the narratives a to what is “real wine” maybe all importers of artisanal wine should be participating.

  4. Jamie,

    My wife & I went yesterday; she has a much better palate than I do even though I
    am employed part-time in the trade. We went early to avoid the afternoon and both
    came away thinking, with very few exceptions, we were underwhelmed. Many wines very
    flat with minimal expressive fruit and a nasty edge from volatile acidity (?) which might
    be post bottling.


  5. “This is the future of fine wine.”

    > yeah, true – this is the future – you are absolutely right! I do this now since almost 10 years here in Styria (aka Steiermark, Austria) and for me: there’s no doubt how great wine is going to be made.


  6. I spent a day at this fair too and tasted some of the most interesting, expressive, terroir driven enjoyable wines I have tasted in the last 20 years.

    Wines made to be drunk and talked about, not stored in a warehouse and traded like stocks and shares, priced according to the whim of a select few.

    The term ‘Real Wine’ does seem to be a marketing one but quite probably only because ‘The Minimal Intervention Wine Fair’ doesn’t trip off the tongue so well….

  7. I didn’t go to this fair, but it looks like great fun. One of the reasons I didn’t go is that in March I went to 2 natural-orientated fairs where I live in Barcelona. I was excited to go and went with an open mind, but came away with mixed feelings. There was plenty of good stuff at the mainly Portuguese SimplesmenteVinho fair but I wasn’t such a fan of VinsNus – few highlights and loads of VA and Brett obscuring any kind of varietal or terroir influence in many cases, despite the believers’ claims to the contrary. Like trying to listen to an oboe being played across the M25.

    I’m sure there were plenty of great and interesting wines at the Real Wine Fair but I bet there were also a number that were pretty bad and not cheap. A level of inconsistency that tars the whole movement. It’s not surprising that many excellent producers who do work in a low-interventional way shy away from the term “natural” altogether. As you yourself recently tweeted “Just opened a white wine that smelled of nail varnish and tasted of apple juice. Expensive apple juice. Don’t bash sulphur dioxide too hard”

    I think it’s exciting that fairs such as this have succeeded in attracting new audiences to wine in a fun and unsnobbish way. It’s also great that some people have rejected industrial wines and showed what low-intervention and respect for terroir can achieve. What I think I’d like to see happen is people calling bad wines what they are, critics staying critical even though the goalposts move, the realisation/acceptance in some cases that some intervention sometimes can be hugely beneficial and above all an end to the lie that extreme levels of Brett / VA / oxidised zero-fruit / nail-varnish wines are the purest expressions of a site.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top