Antony made the pilgrimage over from Nazaré, Simon and Pat also went for all three days and we were joined on the first day by friend of the site Alistair. We tried as many Portuguese wines as we could from as many regions as possible. We’ve written up some of the highlights below and we hope that we’ll be able to stock some of them so you can have a taste of some of the wines we enjoyed the most. We think we’ve uncovered some real gems.
The London Wine Fair takes place at the iconic Olympia Exhibition Centre in Kensington, West London. Around 700 exhibitors were showing over 13,000 wines in the Grand Hall and West Hall at what was the 36th annual London Wine Fair. These ranged from large producers and importers, as well as exhibitions of international prize winners, in the main body of the Grand Hall to small importers representing niche producers at the Esoterica section, and wine producers seeking UK representation at Wines Unearthed. We couldn’t try them all, but for you, our friends and customers, we gave it our best shot! We met some amazing Portuguese producers and we think we’re going to be able to expand our range working with them to bring you more excellent quality, great value wines, that you won’t be able to find in the supermarket.
First port of call were our friends at Almeida Garrett, from the Beira interior region. They provide one of our very popular sparkling wines and were represented by Joao. He’s one of the most enthusiastic representatives you could wish to meet, and it’s infectious – even the most puritanical abstainer would be tempted to have a sip. It’s always nice to spend some time with him and when he surprised us with some gorgeous Serra da Estrela cheese, we were very reluctant to leave! It paired very well with his Almeida Garrett Chardonnay, which we all loved. It’s much more interesting and refreshing than typical new world chardonnays, with their buttery mouth feel and over oaked flavour. We really think this is one we will stock soon, especially if Pat has his way. We also very much enjoyed their delicious gold medal winning Touriga Nacional/Trincadeira blend and their outstanding AG Reserva, a rich, smooth and serious red.
We then moved onto a wonderful stand, showcasing wines from a number of producers from the Tejo region. We spent much of the afternoon there and tried some beautiful wines. First up were Quinta da Ribeirinha. Rui showed us a great range of whites and reds, the highlights included their Vale de Lobos Red (a delicious blend of Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Aragonez) and a really surprising late harvest Riesling.
Next up were wines from a producer called Fiuza, with some really interesting entry level whites made with Arinto and Alvarinho, and a decent range of reds, including a really good entry level blend called Native and a fascinating single varietal Tinta Miuda. None of us had come across this grape before and it didn’t take us long to test the theory that it would pair well with dark, cocoa rich, chocolate. Perhaps the most surprising wine was a very easy drinking sparkling wine, only 10% alcohol, which looks as if it could be exceptional value and we will hopefully stock in the near future.
No rest for the wicked and we were straight onto the neighbouring producer, Bridao. They had 3 sparkling wines; a white, a rose and a surprising red which all presented really well. Maybe too late for us to get in for this summer, but definitely wines that are in our notebook. We all really enjoyed their entry level white (Plexus) and 2 entry level red (Xariel and Coudel Mor, both with good fruit and well rounded) . The Bridao Classico red was noted for its excellent fruit and vanilla notes. Some really good wines and a producer we would like to work with in the future.
The next step on the mammoth Tejo stand were Quinta da Alorna. We agreed that as we wanted to try some fortified wine that we would try their sweet wines and come back on Wednesday for their whites and reds. We opened with a very good Late Harvest Fernão Pires which wasn’t too sweet and had a nice apple profile. But what made us really glad we stopped by was the Alorna Abafado 5 year old, an exceptional dessert wine that we all to a man absolutely loved. Simon’s notes consisted of one word – “Incredible”. We were definitely heading back to Quinta da Alorna on Wednesday.