Valérie's visit to the London International Wine Fair

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I am Valérie, the French trainee at Bubble Brothers. After already two months working in Ireland, I had the opportunity last week to visit the London International Wine Fair. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed it a lot.

After a chaotic journey, I finally reached the Customs House Excel, overcrowded for the first day. There were people from all over the world with a melting pot of languages, which was good for me to practise my French (obviously, English, German, Italian and my beginner’s Spanish).

I first went to visit the French area, especially the Champagne one, as I am from Epernay.

I had a meeting with Thierry Tronquit Prats, Export Manager of Chanoine who just arrived at the fair as well. I was really pleased to meet him as I had heard a lot about Chanoine already.

I devoted most of my time to visiting some of our suppliers present at the fair to introduce myself and discover their new wines:

I started with one of our Spanish suppliers, Bodegas San Marcos. I met the export manager Mister Julio García-Hierro who took the time to let me taste 4 of his wines. Reds were really fruity and spicy like the Campobarro Cencibel or Campobarro Tempranillo but I was really impressed by a Campobarro Rosado that I imagine delicious with a Paella for summertime or as an aperitif.

Julio, Bodegas San-Marcos

Continuing my visit in “Spain”, I met Elena Sánchez Tendero and Ervigio Adán Ruiz, both export managers for Bodegas Altanza, located in Fuenmayor. Really nice and sympathetic people, ready to answer all of my questions. I was particularly interested in the Lealtanza Artistas Españoles Reserva 2001 that we have in the shop with its very nice label. 100% Tempranillo, this complex wine with toasty and spicy notes has been aged in French oak barrels during 18 months.

To end my visit in the Spanish headquarters to get a bit of sun, I met Óscar Álvarez, Export Manager of Julián Chivite. I tasted the Chivite Collecion 125 Reserva. This blend of 58% Tempranillo, 29% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon is really intense with cigar notes as well as hints of cedar.

After my day trip in Spain, I spent my other day in France, my native country.

I went to the Louis Max stand, where I met Cécile Repolt. She already met Julian at Vinisud, who was impressed by her attractively labelled wines from Burgundy. Starting with a white Mercurey, I continued my tasting with a red Mercurey and a Nuit Saint Georges, which are very typical fine wines from the Burgundy area. It was the first time I had tried these wines and I can now define them as top class wines, really different from the others, very impressive and delicate wines.

Just after lunch time, I met Eric Chevalier from the Domaine de l’Aujardière at the stand TOP 100. He already won an award last year for the TOP 100 with his wine Fié Gris 2006 single varietal Sauvignon Gris, best white wine of the competition , Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France,Domaine de l’Aujardière . Mr Chevalier participated in a competition called “La Paulée des Vins de Loire” where the wine Fié Gris accompanied the starter composed with a carpaccio of fresh fish with green tomatoes, deliciously fresh and perfectly matching the grape sauvignon gris. Starting with the Chardonnay, I continued with the Fié Gris and finished my tasting of the whites with the magnificent floral and fruity Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu vintage 2007 with a new yellow label, which was awarded a gold medal at the Concours Général Agricole 2008. I finished on a spring note with the Rosé d’ici, a blend of Cabernet franc, Sauvignon, Grolleau and Pinot noir, very fresh and fruity to share as an aperitif before a barbecue for example.

I ended my visit tour by Val d’Orbieu, a Languedoc based company, where I met Noura. We are currently talking to this company about its 25cl and 1L Tetrapacks. Three wines are available: red, white and rosé, for an original way of drinking wine - with a straw. Light and easy to carry, this trendy product will be ideal for your picnic, garden and cocktail party. Those Tetrapacks should be available at Bubble Brothers very soon.

Before taking my plane to go back to Cork, I decided to participate in a blind sparkling tasting organised by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. After analysing the consistency of the bubbles, the colour, the intensity, autolysis flavours (the autolysis of the yeast happens during secondary fermentation in the bottle. The yeast consumes sugar and creates bubbles at the same time. The slower the autolysis happens, the smaller the bubbles will be and the finer the Champagne. This will give it flavours ranging from toasted bread or brioche to fresh butter), dominant aromas and acidity for more than 20 minutes, we finally got the results:

1st: Champagne - 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, with very strong toasted notes 2nd: Cava – 40% Xarel Lo, 40% Macabeo, 20% Parellada, fresh light fruity aromas 3rd : South African sparkling - 61% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir, light and creamy aromas

As soon as the sparkling wines were poured, I noticed finer and smaller bubbles in the first glass that reminded me of Champagne, as well as the consistency of the fine mousse at the edge of the glass. I was finally right!

To conclude, participating to the LIWF was a really good experience and allowed me to meet a lot of people in the wine business for future exchanges.