RAW London 2015
(photo+text by Juraj Konečný)
BRICK LANE - Notorious part of London, the famous curry capital of the UK, also known for its night clubs, art & fashion exhibitions as well as for its world-famous graffiti arts. Since few years ago, also home for RAW London, natural wine festival (RAW (rɔː) – adj in a natural state; not treated by manufacturing or other processes)
OLD TRUMAN BREWERY - founded in 1666 as a Black Eagle Brewery, in 19th century it expanded and became the largest brewery in the world. Now an office and entertainment complex + acomodating RAW - its a home to the worldwide natural wine exhibition of various unprocessed and additive-free great tasting wines.
ISABELLE LEGERON organizing last bits and pieces before the official start of the festival on Sunday morning.
The first French female Master of Wine (MW - no higher wine education title, beat this!) bears responsibility for gathering best natural winemakers of the world who bring change and reflect their vineyards with as low intrusion to the wine as possible. As per the festival requirements, no additives in wines are allowed, except for low levels of sulphites (max. 70mg/l, compared to EU max. allowance of up to 400mg/l).
THE MAP - showing the countries which participated. One can walk around with complimentary glass + catalogue of wineries, try nearly 1000 different wines and talk to the winemakers about what exactly they did not do to their wines so that they stay so unique. It was quite personal, the winemakers took time to discuss various aspects of ther works and attidutes. It is not easy to be able to exhibit at RAW, actually its quite tough (even to get on the "waiting list").
Nearly 200 exhibitors - on Sunday for visitors & trade, and Monday just trade. The first day reminded of a hipsterish party gathering in the afternoon hours, definitelly recommended. The second was more formal, however they both had something in common. The mutual search for wines that lack additives, processing agents or any sort of manipulation and manufacturing, these wines are at home here at RAW.
STREKOV 1075 winery - the only representative of Slovak wine world at the festival, Zsolt pictured co-tasting with the only representative of Polish wine-world here (Dom Bliskowice). Zsolt Suto, the owner and winemaker, grows his wines on 12 hectares of biologically protected vineyards, from grape varietals traditionally grown in the region (Welchriesling, Blaufränkisch or Saint Laurent). Zsolt produces his wines in sync with the Charter of the Authentist, which means without using processed yeast, enzymes or additives with very low use of sulphites. Yearly production is 30 000 bottles of wine in four categories.
Selection for RAW London 2015 - In the category “Special”, Zsolt Suto produced wines which were macerated on grape skins (Heion 2013), kachetine method (Porta), wines without any sulphur or wines bottled with sediment (Nigori 2013). Interestingly, his most popular wine at the fair was Nigori 2013, which matured on lees for 6 months in a wooden barrel and was batonaged just prior to bottling. This gave the wine full mouthfeel, complex buttery aromas with freshly ballanced acidity, no problem for it to be served after full bodied reds. Half of the produced bottles went for export to Japan and the other half was bought here at the fair by a Michelin star cheff and restaurant owner from Wienna.
Opening of MOVIA - 2006 Pinot Noir sparkling natural wine bottled with lees. Unusual process, but as the server put it, not much was wasted. It was an experience (also the wine). The other few wines we tried from this winemaker were quite nice, namely Pinot Noir 2009 with 22mg/l total sulphites, which could have a little less oak, but as my friend Vlado said, it was just fine (and he is not even American).
FOOD - The Richmond and Elliot’s, “traditional, locally sourced comfort food” pop-up restaurants presented Palourde clams, morcilla & wild garlic, a great dish for a mere five pounds. The wines on their menu are all natural.
The Little Bread Pedlar - Craft bakers of sourdough bread from Bermondsey - “making and delivering artisan croissants, breads and other treats to cafés, delis and shops across central London by bicycle” treated the wine tasters with these high end products, you could have them with rillettes and pickles, with home made butter, or on their own.
VIGNETTE DESIGN - as the Italian winemaker from Vignaioli Contrada Soarda told me, due to the latest over-use of the term “Terroir” they decided to put their own farm ass named Musso on the vignette of Serafino 2010 saying “Terroir? I’m part of it.”- a story which differentiates.
VIGNETTE DESIGN - Gut Oggau, a biodinamic Demeter certified, family run Austrian winery
won several packaging design prices as their cuvées are named after fictional characters designed by Jung von Matt, and are integrated in a family tree (grandparent, parents and children - personalising the wine characteristics). Nevertheless, their Josephine 2012, Blaufränkisch with no added sulfites was fresh, aromatic with cherry-like flavours and elegant feel.
GEORGIAN NATIONAL WINE AGENCY - this government financed legal body helps Georgian winemakers with their representation worldwide. Not only the individual winemakers, but the wine industry and the country in general take a great advantage from it. One can be sure that Slovak winemakers would love to take advantage of such project to ease their world presentation. The hope is that things around government endorsement of Slovak winemakers start moving soon, because internationally they already move quite fast. Anyways, it has been a great festival, full of inspiration and great wine!