London Wine Fair: taste the variety

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A look ahead at the annual London Wine Fair returns which runs from May 18 to 20

Wines from around the world are set to come together under one roof at this year’s London Wine Fair. More than 750 exhibitors will fill Kensington Olympia from May 18 to 20 alongside tastings, seminars and master classes aimed at the trade including people running and working in bars, pubs and restaurants.

Running since 1981, the fair includes several new features such as The View Tastings, a self-contained area specifically for companies that deal in premium and super-premium wines. Run in association with fine wine cellarers Octavian, the table-top showcase will feature the likes of Alliance Wine, Amathus, Hatch Mansfield, Louis Latour Agencies and Treasury Wine Estates with Penfolds. Access will be restricted to those with proven credentials in buying fine wine.

For the first time, the fair will introduce an annual celebration of two grape varieties – one well-known and widely planted, the other less so, made up of one red and one white. For 2015, the varieties will be Syrah and Grüner Veltliner. This will see a tasting of 100 wines sourced from exhibitors, run in partnership with Wine Grapes, the book on grape varieties by Masters of Wine Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding with Dr José Vouillamoz. There will be in-show judging, arranged by the International Wine & Spirit Competition, and a master class that explores the two varieties.

Following a successful launch in 2014, Esoterica is returning to present the portfolios of niche and micro-importers. The “show within a show”, curated by Judy Kendrick, will include Croatian Fine Wine, Eclectic Wines and Yapp Brothers across up to 80 tables. To qualify to take part, exhibitors must have niche products, employ fewer than five people and ship from small producers.

Once again, London Wine Fair is not just about wine, with the return of Brewhouse, presenting beers from 40 craft brewers in a dedicated area. Prompted by the rise of craft beer in the UK, it will include speakers and presentations in The Hopstack theatre.

The fair’s main theatre will host its own packed programme of master classes and seminars on wine, featuring world-class producers, experts and writers, including trends in the on-trade. A series of educational tastings and activities run by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) will include a master class on Japanese sake led by Master of Wine Antony Moss.

Leading on-trade figures will join Wine Intelligence for an “industry briefing” on Tuesday at 10.30am to debate how wine is performing in the on-trade, consumer behaviour and what initiatives have helped to lift demand.

On Tuesday at 4pm, the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) will present a spirits tasting led by one of its judges, Joel Harrison. Gold medal winners featured will include Mackmyra whisky, Blanton’s Kentucky bourbon, Four Pillars gin and Chairman’s Reserve rum.

On Wednesday at 10.30, Katy Moses of KAM Media will be revealing new research looking at how to keep the bar customer engaged in the wine category, and how to capitalise on the time spent in that category.

For details of seminars, exhibitors and free trade registration, visit

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