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The lost story


#1

I find myself sitting on a bench on the second floor of The London Wine Fair, the trade event for the UK wine industry. As I gaze down over the stands, I’m not sure whether to feel excited or depressed.

Spread before me are 10s of thousands of wines. Each and every one is incredibly important to one person, or one family, whose efforts went into creating it, and whose livelihood may depend on it.

Each one is not just a collection of tasting notes and price considerations, but the result of many life decisions, so it has a story, and meaning for someone.

And yet, individually, each one here is insignificant, lost in the crowd, part of the noise.

How does this situation match the needs of the world; for great wines to be made, and enjoyed?

I’m not sure.

I’m inspired to write this, because on one tiny stand in an upper gallery of the event, I happened across a wine I know we have all loved, the Kolonics Juhfark. In the context of this community, that wine has shined and brought joy to us but also created community, since we have gone on a journey of discovery together. Here, it looks almost shy, quietly inviting conversation from its shelf, but struggling to get the attention of the passing crowd that rushes past, striding from one meeting to the next and desperate not to get distracted.

I raise my hat to the Buyers who’ve made sense of this cacophony of wine stories and experiences, to bring us wines we can get excited about and get to know in comfort.

Ultimately, is it variety we want, or better ways to understand a wine?

Ps. The Juhfark sends its regards!


Hungarian epiphany
#2

Yesterday it was quieter than usual (fewer stands and fewer visitors); is it any better today? Good Prince Stirbey wines: you should take some more of the range.


#3

Don’t drink it all, I’ll be there in a minute!


#4

Still quiet and much smaller than the past. Still some good people and wines here, but not so much excitement


#5

I was there Monday, it was even smaller than last year, acres of empty spaces which were filled by stands last year.

I should have been there today, but Easyhotel, Earls Court I had booked and pre-paid for to stay in last night had vanished under builders hoardings. So I came home…


#6

Does all this perhaps imply a shift in trade wine-buying habits?

At the bottom end of the market it would be impossible to compete with the cut-throat buying of the supermarkets, so I guess that independents would increasingly look to local contacts for those smaller-production, characterful wines such as the Juhfark. If that’s the case, then I guess if you want to export, then some sort of co-operative venture, or an agent would make sense. But agents cost money (understandably) and that will make purchases through them pricier. Probably the restaurant trade could absorb that, but it must be harder for the independent wine merchant who can’t arrange direct purchases.

All this is pure speculation of course. Does it bear any relation to fact, @robert_mcintosh?


#7

Big question (hard to answer on small screen)

Many of the big brands are here to build profile and relationships. The majority of the stands (though they are small ones individually) are here to make the contacts you mention : looking to get agents and distribution rather than specific sales

Hard work though


#8

Err, not quite.


#9

My apologies. I overstated in the enthusiasm of the moment.

Well, we probably loved the name at least


#10

… And I think there’s clearly a gap between the reviews on the website, and the opinions expressed in this Forum, which were more enthusiastic than not.
I got one in the fridge as we speak, and I am really excited about trying it! The name is an added bonus :wink:


#11

I went to VinItaly once. It was amazing, and I tasted about 100 wines during the day. I’m sure I have some of my notes lying around somewhere, but really, it was pretty intense. So the things that stand out are the stories. I remember being introduced to a couple of the buyers form Liberty; we sat down at the Fontodi stand and had a relaxed tasting with the producer. I made a beeline for Villa le Prata to try their new vintages - a winery I’ve visited but not available in the UK. I stopped off at Tenuta Viglione to say hi as I’d met them at a tasting in London.

Thousands of wines, probably most of them delicious, but it’s the people and the stories that end up mattering more. This is why it can be frustrating when a wine is no longer listed - a Morellino I’ve mentioned in the drinking threads was a wine I had in a Trattoria in Rome and stuck with me. Perhaps not the best Morellino ever, but it brings back memories of a glorious trip.

What’s nice about this community is that, although we all know how wonderful TWS wines are, there are just so many of them that the recommendations bring with them their own stories and allow the wines to become more than just the tasting notes. So cheers to that! :wine_glass:


#12

We are the virtual off shoot of the original Symposium! I’ll drink to that too (tonight, in fact! Going to an evening of Italian wine/food matching…) :clinking_glasses: