POSTED ON 21/06/2014

A return to Olympia from Docklands this June turned out to be an inspired move for the London Wine Fair, one of Europe’s most important wine trade fairs. One of the biggest successes was a new section called Esoterica, with boutique companies specialising in native and rare grape varieties from countries as diverse as Croatia, Greece, Canada, China, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal.

Some, such as Aussie Rules Wine, Eclectic, Go Brazil and Argentine Wine are single country specialists, others, notably SWIG, Yapp Bros, Charles Taylor, Vintage Roots are established merchants with a mail order or retail business. Among those that also impressed me were Top Selection ( and Sommelier’s Choice ( Taken together, the 62 boutique merchants generated a real buzz, showing the energy of a flourishing wine sector beyond the high street.

According to Nik Darlington, MD of Red Squirrel (, ‘it was an almost unhealthy amount of fun’. Advertising itself as Britain’s ‘rare grape specialists’, Richmond-based Red Squirrel, is one such merchant. True to esoteric form, it showed a tangy, summer-pudding-fresh 2012 Braucol Rosé, £8.50, a crisply dry, citrusy 2012 Bruna Le Russeghine Pigato, £14.50, and a smoky, cherryish, pinot noir-like 2009 Altavia Rossese di Dolceacqua Superiore, £14.99.

Carte Blanche Wines represents an eclectic mix of quality growers with as its mail order arm. Among the many wines I enjoyed tasting were a succulent, stonefruit-rich yet refreshing 2013 Arbousiers, Domaine Réméjeanne, £16.50, a super-fresh, apricot-fruit and mineral dry 2012 Thörle Saulheimer Riesling Kalkstein , £19.95, and a terrific, off-dry, peachy, honeyed, vouvray-like 2012 Ludovic Chanson, Montlouis, £17.95, while reds included an elegantly perfumed, strawberry-spicy 2010 Dominio do Bibei, Ribeira Sacra, £19.95.

Next I stumbled upon Stoke Newington’s Borough Wines ( where I tasted an excellent dry raspberryish mousse-like 2010 Llopart Rosé Brut Reserva Cava, £17, a seamlessly juicy, exotically grapefruity 2012 Ode d’Aydie, Pacherence du Vic Bilh, £14, a refreshingly lime-citrusy, zesty dry Hungarian 2012 Apatsagi Prior Rizling, £14, and mulberryish Pinot Noir, £16, and Thierry Germain’s fine, delicately herbal, cherryish 2013 Saumur Champigny, £14.50.

Something for The WeekendSomething for The Weekend

Night In

2013 Les Caillottes Sancerre Rosé

Bronze pink in colour, this stylish Loire Valley rosé made from the pinot noir grape is just the ticket for summer sipping and TV nights in, bright, juicy, strawberryish and enticingly dry. £9, down from £11, until 1 July, Sainsbury's.

Dinner Party

2011 Marques de Casa Concha Syrah.

This is a powerful rich Chilean syrah whose undertones of pepper and liquorice spice and succulently smooth and smoky blackberryish fruit bring it closer to northern than southern Rhône, hence syrah and not shiraz. £9.99, down from £11.99, Tesco.

Splash Out

2013 Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño, Rias Baixas

A magnificent Spanish dry white from the Galician coast, whose peachy aromatics are complemented by a richly satisfying, juicy quality of bright apple and pear fruitiness while its intense freshness is delineated by a saline-crisp tang. £15.99, Waitrose.

Companies exhibiting at Esoterica

Alpine Wines
Aussie Rules Wine
BBS Wines
Black Dog Wine Agency
Blice Wine
Borough Wines
Cachet Wines
Carte Blanche Wines
Casa Leal
Charles Taylor Wines
Chateau Bone Wine
Condor Wines
Croatian Fine Wines Limited
CVA Wines
Delibo Wine Agencies
Easy Export UK
Eclectic Wines
Expression Du Terroir
Georges Barbier of London
Go Brazil Wines
Grays & Feather
Hard To Find Wines
Humble Grape
Il Tagliere
Indigo Wine
Ivo Varbanov Wines
La Marchande
Maltby & Greek
Marta Vine
Mason and Mason
Middle Kingdom Wine Cellar
MWH Wine Merchants
Navigator Wines
New Generation Wines
Nothing But The Grape
OW Loeb
Pacta Connect
Peter Osborne Fine Wines
Red Retro Wines
Red Squirrel Wine
Richmond Wine Agencies
Sommelier's Choice
St Aubyn Leschallas Wines
Tas Wines
The Argentine Wine Trading Co (AWTC)
The Association of Small Direct Wine Merchants
The Great Gaddesden Wine Company
The Wine Agency
The Winemakers Club
The Winesque Company Limited
Thorman Hunt & Co
Top Selection
Triage Wines
TYG Wines
Unity Wine
Vintage Roots
Wine Equals Friends
Wine Paradiso
Yapp Brothers

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