Inaugural Wine & Spirits Show proves a success

Proving that two heads are better than one, this year the drinks business teamed up with its sister magazine, The Spirits Business, bringing the world of wine and spirits under one roof for a spectacular show. Phoebe French reports.

the drinks business joined forces with sister magazine The Spirits Business for our first collaborative show in October, bringing the world of wine and spirits together under one roof.

Following on from the success of The Wine Show Chelsea, The City Wine Show and Spirited, the new team took to One Whitehall Place, part of the five-star hotel The Royal Horseguards, for this year’s Wine & Spirits Show.

Held on 12 and 13 October, the show was open to the trade and consumers, and featured separate wine and spirits halls, together with a gin and tonic bar and rooms in which masterclasses were conducted.

The chandelier-filled halls provided impressive backdrops for the exhibitors.

This year the show welcomed more than 1,500 guests (including 350 members of the trade), hosted seven wine masterclasses, six spirits masterclasses and poured around 500 types of wine, 200 spirits and 45 brands of beer. VIP guests were treated to unlimited gin and tonics, a treat-filled goodie bag, fast-track entry to the masterclasses and a glass of Champagne on arrival.

The wine and the spirits halls both featured a Global Masters zone, showcasing the top medal-winning wines and spirits that have been judged throughout the year as part of the drinks business and The Spirits Business’ Global Masters series.

Guests chatted while sampling tipples.

Both halls also featured a new products zone, showcasing the latest releases in the wine and spirits industries, keeping guests abreast of emerging drinks trends in the market.

Visitors to the stand were asked to vote for their favourite new wine, with the accolade this year going to Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata for its Malbec Argentino 2015. The label, which won the Design and Packaging Award at The Drinks Business Awards this year, is the brainchild of historian Dr Adrianna Catena, and pays homage to the Malbec grape variety, its roots in France and subsequent rise in Argentina.

Experts were on hand to offer advice to visitors.

Designed by packaging design and branding company Stranger & Stranger, with the artwork supplied by Rick Shaefer, the label depicts four female figures that embody milestones in the history of Argentina’s treasured grape variety. The grapes used for the 2015 vintage hail from the Nicasia and Angélica vineyards, both of which are situated at over 3,000 feet above sea level.

In addition to wine and spirits, the Beer Tour Zone offered guests the wide array of brews that were judged by our expert panel as part of August’s Beer Masters blind tasting competition.

Jackie Fast

Among the exhibitors that took part in this year’s show was Jackie Fast, a former candidate on the popular BBC show The Apprentice, who debuted her Canadian icewine brand, Rebel Pi, at the show. The Canadian-born Londoner, already a successful businesswoman, has collaborated with a winery in the Okanagan Valley, and is selling her sweet wine for £139 a bottle. She claims that it’s the only icewine made from Rousanne grapes in the world. “Icewine is incredibly precise, and any minute error in judgement, or nature, can result in a lost crop,” says Fast.

“That precision is what makes icewine so unique – it’s the hardest alcohol, including spirits, to produce in the world. The risk is what makes it rebellious, and it is often referred to as ‘extreme winemaking’ in the industry.”

At the show, Fast gave visitors the chance to win a bottle of her wine and an invite to a private screening of The Apprentice at her house. Other wine exhibitors included Provence wine estate Domaine Vintur, Marlborough’s Whitehaven wine, Sonoma’s Frei Brothers, California’s Edna Valley Vineyard, Chile’s Santa Rita, England’s Digby Fine English and the Veneto’s Casa Paladin.

Also in the wine hall was the Italian Signature Wine Academy, a strategic alliance of eight premium Italian wine producers that is promoting ‘brand Italy’; awards specialist Sud de France Languedoc-Rousillon/Sud Ouest Top 100; Wine List Confidential, db’s guide to the best restaurants in London for wine lovers; WSET provider East London Wine School; trade organisation New Zealand Winegrowers; English and Welsh wine industry organisation Wine GB; Moldovan wine promoter Novus BH Magister; and Italy’s Consorzio delle Venezie DOC.

The spirits hall was awash with gin, courtesy of: Horse Guards London Dry gin; Dartmouth Distillery; Unit Six Gin; Smeaton’s Gin; and Masons Yorkshire Gin. Whisky and Bourbon distillers joined the line-up too, from the Welsh Whisky Company; Wood Brothers Distillery Company; Angus Dundee Distillers; Amber Glen Scotch Whiskey; Uncle Nearest; and The Lakes Distillery. Brandy from Spanish Oak completed the offering.

There were talks on wines and spirits…

Guests didn’t go hungry either, with charcuterie from meat supplier Field and Flower, biltong from Woza and a vast array of cheeses from Paxton and Whitfield.

As in previous years, the masterclasses proved incredibly popular. Guests were able to learn about the changing style of Italian Pinot Grigio from Albino Armani and Nazareno Vicenzi of the Consorzio delle Venezie DOC, and sample a number of wines from the region.

Gin producers were out in force at the show, including Smeaton’s.

English fizz producer Digby Fine English also brought its new wine glass to the show, hosting a masterclass that asked whether glass shape affects the taste of English wine. The glass, the first to be designed specifically for English sparkling, is made by London-based crystal maker Gurasu, and is designed so that the wine can easily be swirled to unveil its aromas.

Other highlights included the iDealwine masterclass, which saw Lionel Quenca explore the rising stars in fine wine; a masterclass on Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne, Pol Roger, hosted by James Simpson MW; and ‘Champagne and more’, a tasting of top-end sparkling wine from around the world presented by db editor-in-chief Patrick Schmitt MW, who also hosted a masterclass on emerging wine regions.

The Lakes Distillery stand drew a crowd.

Over in the spirits section, Tim Etherington-Judge, founder of trade group Healthy Hospo, looked at the health of the wine and spirits industry and what needs to change, while co-founder of Maverick Drinks, Michael Vachon, explored the relationship between brands and bars. Robert Weller showcased the whiskies in the Penderyn range, and Claire Best from Amathus Drinks looked at the concept of terroir in gin. Rounding off a packed programme of spirits masterclasses, Whisky Exchange ambassador Billy Abbott delivered a beginner’s guide to whisky.

The masterclasses gave attendees the chance to learn about wine and spirits in depth.

Also taking to the stage was soft drinks specialist Longflint Drinks, and Beer Masters judge Shane McNamara, who presented a masterclass on beer styles and the impact of ingredients and process on the final flavour. Roll on 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters