Well, I had a blast in the Downriver end of London yesterday. Even missing the last flight home and all that went with that hasn't spoiled it. The sun was shining, London is great so long as you don't have to live there, and from the minute I arrived, the show was a regular love-in. The first thing that caught my eye was one of the wines we enjoyed at the Australian tasting in Cork last week, and while I was sampling the Chardonnay-Viognier from the same stable, I was amiably accosted by Pablo de las Heras from Bodegas Pingón in Spain's Ribera del Duero, suppliers of some of our most popular Spanish wine. Pablo is an extremely good egg, and a good friend, and we met up later on for coffee with Tamara Trapez of Pazo Pondal, who make very fine Albariño (Fortnum and Mason's Albariño comes from them). A pity the effervescent Tamara escaped the camera.
I met the man responsible for our wonderful Argentinean Malbec, Alessandro Speri, and his export assistant Justin Sharkey. Alessandro is the fifth generation of a famous Italian winemaking family, and his decision to swan off to Argentina and give Malbec a try didn't go down too well at first with the folks, which is why he calls his wines Prodigo. He's not such a black sheep now, though. Taste and you'll see why. I joined Alessandro and Justin for necessary refreshment at the end of the day, and it was no bad thing to find a Bury St Edmunds beer on offer. Suffolk abu!
Hugh Mcleod was on the Orbital stand, so I stepped up to the edge of the gaping void and said hello and tried my hardest not to look a complete fool. I can see the cartoon: "I have a blog too, you know..." I didn't even try the wines or anything. Hugh was very gracious indeed for a man with so much on his plate. As was Garech from Orbital when I asked why Stormhoek never ring, never write, to discuss who might bring Stormhoek wines into Ireland. We'll see. The fair's blog looks a bit slow, but I suppose everyone's too busy with business to write. Here are some snaps.
I met Olivier Roches from Château le Tap, who came to see us in Cork not so long ago, and also, as I'd hoped to, Eric Chevalier, whose Fié Gris not only has our approval, but in its 2006 vintage has been voted Best White of Show among the 100 top vins de pays 2007. This is a reasonably big deal, and great for Eric. We'll have to get our order in pronto if we want any of his remaining stock.
Over at the Bottle Green stand, I met the young man who is winemaker at La Fortuna, our Chilean supplier. Christian Merino Lobos has been making progress in this family-run business for just two years, and I hope my nagging about their unrepresentative website goes back to Chile with him... the wines deserve better. I also bumped into Munster's own Mary Pawle, shopping at Bottle Green for more good organic wines.
And the newly-married Elena, née Sanchez, from our Rioja suppliers, Bodegas Altanza, was as charming as ever and pleased to hear about all the latest developments at Bubble Brothers. We'll be giving her wines a good push at Dublin airport in a few weeks' time. You read it here first.
That was one great day out.