Friday, 27 November 2009
I spent a fun few days in Rioja earlier this month attending a wine industry conference entitled Wine Future Rioja. It was organised by the dynamic wine academy of Spain, headed by Pancho Campo MW. All in all, an impressive event attended by some of the wine world's shining stars: Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Miguel Torres, Paul Pontallier (Ch Margaux), Robert Joseph, Mel Dick etc etc etc. As the name suggests, the theme of the conference was the future of wine. This was addressed by some speakers, but not all. Some excellent speakers - Tim Hanni MW, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jeremy Benson, Justin Howard Sneyd, Robert Joseph all stood out. But also quite a few speakers just plugging their particular product or program which was tedious. Hopefully the speakers will be better briefed next time.
The highlight of the conference was a swanky tasting of 20 Grenache based wines, tutored by the man himself, E Robert Parker Jr (see grainy photo). Actually he seemed like a nice guy - not at all arrogant. Over 500 people attended the tasting and used 10,600 glasses. I should know as muggins here helped to clear them up! No L-R in the line up unfortunately.
There was a mini salon going on throughout the conference with about 50 wineries there. Only one from the Languedoc, Domaine O vineyards in Cabardes (of which more later). I was pleased to see a good showing from the Sud de France export guys. There were over 50 wines in all, accompanied by a handy little booklet with some background on each wine, contact details and a guide price. I didn't taste them all but highlights were Mas Jullien '99 in magnum, 2006 Fitou from Bertrand Bergé and a star from the Roussillon, Clos des Fées 2007. Also Gerard Bertrand's upmarket Corbières La Forge.