Slightly different this year as I went not being a member of the Tesco Wine Community (TWC) which I had been a part of for the last three and a half years or so and although all good things eventually come to an end, it still felt strange.
My wife and I attended this year with family and friends and ended up being a group ten, we also met up with a couple of other ex TWC members and their partners.
Arriving just before 12.00pm we were greeted by an enormous queue which stretched down the Hammersmith road, luckily we were only 5 minutes from doors opening and we were only waiting for a short period. Once inside we all headed to the booking area for the numerous free workshops that were on offer throughout the afternoon. Restricted to one ticket per person we all picked our favourites, I chose the history of Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja presented by a member of the Faustino family Fidel Faustino Fernandez, I actually had a very interesting chat with him at his stand before the workshop, nice guy and brilliant wines.
One really nice surprise was the size of the hall, everything was well spaced out with lots of room to walk around, lots of seating areas to take a break and grab some food and although it was a sell out it never seemed crowded.
A big disappointment to us was Tesco decided to drop their ‘Wine Walks’ which was always a big favourite with us. A wine expert would walk around the stands with a group and introduce their best 10 or so wines at the show. Last year we chose a walk with Wine expert and TV personality Joe Wadsack in which a 20 minute walk turned into almost an hour, great fun, real shame it was dropped.
Right, lets get to the wines and with over 300 wines on show it was hard to know where to start. With five hours of tasting ahead we started out with a plan fizz and whites first before moving up to the heavier reds as the afternoon passes, this sounded like a good plan but trust me it quickly deteriorates into a free for all, It was also impossible for our group to stick together so we all split up and did our own thing. We tasted a lot of wines over the afternoon good and not so good, far to many to mention so I will give you a brief overview of the better ones.
The first stand we visited was Villa Maria where we sampled a variety of whites including Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Taylors pass Sauvignon blanc 2014 (excellent) and a new one on me the Cellar selection Arneis 2014 which was a real revelation.
Brancott Estate – Always enjoy Brancott wines although I had not yet tried their Terroir series and I was pleasantly surprised. The Sauvignon Blanc was lovely as was their Sauvignon Gris which was a hit with my daughter.
Couple of Champagnes to mention which were very good were the Chanoine Freres 2007 Vintage and the Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top.
Other whites which made an impression were the Spanish Breckin Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the very drinkable Finca Juana Albarino DO Rias Baixas
There were many other whites that were generally very good but the ones I’ve highlighted were amongst my favourites.
Reds were next and their were some pretty good ones, a couple of stand out Riojas were the Beronia Dos Maderas Reserva 2008 and the Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001 & 2004
Two Syrah’s which were also very good were the Marques de Casa Chonha Syrah 2012 and probably my favourite wine in the show the stunning Finca Las Moras Three Valleys Gran Syrah 2011.
One of the friendliest stands at the show was the Les Dauphins and the very amiable Jo (sorry don’t know her surname). I was introduced to her by our friends Clare & Nick as they tried to convert me to try one of their favourite wines. Jo was very patient as I tried four of their reds in which I found two very nice indeed, the Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge 2014 and the Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2014. We were asked if we would like a photocall and of course we all obliged.
So another Wine Fair has come and gone and very enjoyable it was too, my family who all came for the first time really enjoyed it as did all our friends. I could have gone on writing about some of the brilliant wines we tasted but my note taking suffered toward the end and became slightly illegible.
Thanks to Tesco who really do this kind of thing well and I look forward to next year.