You either love it or hate it, but either way if you’re involved in the wine world the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) is a compulsory event. Thousands of people attended the industry trade fair which showcases some of the world’s best new talent as well as some old favourites. It’s hosted in the Excel Centre which is a little way out of the city, and basically a giant warehouse. I have to admit it is a little bit souless due to the immense size of the place but there were some stands that definitely made it their own. We managed to sneak in and hunt down Decanter Chairman and industry legend Steven Spurrier (interview to follow), but the best thing about the show is the opportunity to taste a vast amount of wine and talk directly to the people who make it.
We loved the Wine Australia stand with their very thoughtfully presented wines, we’ll be reporting back on tasting a flight of their fine Chardonnay soon. It was great to see Decanter championing new wines looking for UK distributers and we were mightily impressed with wine importers Buckingham Schenk mooring up the Altantis to host clients – it’s a gorgeous haven from the madness of the Excel centre and well worth getting on board if you can! By the end of the day we were a little worse for wear having sampled wines from Italy, China, Germany, France, Australia, and New Zealand.
We caught up with Wiremu, a finalist in the 2011 UK Sommelier of the year competition, to get his thoughts on the fair from someone in the industry. He says it is very much an international wine fair and, “it’s not everyday you get to take masterclasses on Lebanese wine.” For him it was a fantastic place to see a lot of wine, taste a lot of wine, find wine for wine lists, meet producers and of course, network.
For us it was a humbling experience, as we realised how little we knew. Next year we will be spitting.