I popped in to the UK's first Natural Wine Fair late yesterday afternoon to see a very lively, happy scene on the edge of Borough Market, London SE1 on this first of two days devoted to trade and press. Much to everyone's surprise, almost 800 members of the public had bought an £18 ticket to the Fair on Sunday. Some of the organisers had been wary of charging so much, but other participating importers argued that a relatively high ticket price was needed to exclude those more interested in the active ingredient than anything else. I'm told there was buzz but no booziness and the 114 wine producer exhibitors seemed notably happy - although many noted that things would have been very different on this exposed site had there been either heavy rain or particularly high temperatures.
Tam went yesterday and reported: 'I thought the lone Oz representative was excellent - Jasper Hill. Also goodies from Jurançon Dom de Souch, Alexandre Bain (Loire), Clos de Tue-Boeuf (Loire - lots of indigenous grape varieties here and in his mini négoce business), Binner (Alsace), Bornard (Arbois), COS (Siciliy) and Arianna Occhipinti (also Sicily).'
Later she went to 'the wonderfully unassuming restaurant RSJ on Stamford St (and therefore just a sneeze from Waterloo or seven minutes' tube and walk from the Fair). RSJ is celebrating Natural Wine Fortnight and has an absolutely gorgeous selection of organic/natural Loire wines by the glass which they normally offer only by the bottle. Stuff like (among others) Thierry Germain's rich L'Insolite Saumur Blanc 2009 for £5.95, Alexandre Bain's Pouilly Fumé for £5.95, and Thierry Puzelat's Touraine Côt (which goes perfectly with their meltingly tender steak). Also a fabulous sparkler from Germain, Bulles des Roches Brut, by the glass. This natural wine showcase lasts only until 22 May. I cannot recommend it strongly enough for anyone anywhere near Waterloo.'
Julia, who bravely fought the crowds on Sunday at the Fair, has drawn my attention to the staggeringly long list of participating restaurants in Natural Wine Fortnight on the Fair's own website. All of these establishments - all over the UK though admittedly mainly around London - are said to be offering a minimum of one natural red and one natural white by the glass until 22 May, although apparently many are doing far more than this.
I was also given details of a (much smaller) natural wine fair in Belgium in Aalter on Sunday 5 June and Anderlecht on Monday 6 June. To find out more see http://www.wijnfolie.be.