What’s in store at the RAW natural wine fair

Love discovering unusual, beautiful wines? RAW 2013 unearths the latest finds from the vine.

What's in store at the RAW natural wine fair


The RAW natural wine fair is back. For the second year, over two days in May The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane will become the Willy Wonka Factory of wine, with more than 150 viticultural eccentrics from around the world offering wine lovers a kaleidoscopic range of taste sensations that simply blow conventional wines out of the water. Trust me, parched quaffer, you should get to know natural wines. Weird and wonderful, daring and delicious, they are the Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudge Mallow Delight to conventional wines’ cabbage water. 
*“How so?!”*, I hear you scream. Well, because natural wines are made with minimal intervention in the vineyard (no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides) and in the cellar (no additives except sulphur, which is generally necessary to stop stored wine turning to vinegar), they are as pure and alive as wine can be. They are expressions of nature’s fancy, unadulterated products of the grape, the soil and the weather – the true taste of ‘terroir’ that conventional wine labels so often less-then-truthfully gush about. 
Natural wines are what happens when winemaking’s potential isn’t circumscribed by the profit motive, when wine isn’t fiddled about with – a touch of tartaric acid here, a bit of extra sugar there – to ensure optimum output, uniformity of taste, vintage after vintage, and the broadest consumer appeal. Let’s face it, this makes for a dull, besuited repressiveness in winemaking and wine drinking culture in general. It limits the range of taste experiences we wine lovers can enjoy and gives us a false expectation of what our tipple should taste like. It’s this narrow culture the RAW fair is here to explode.    
So what gustatory wonders can be expected? Well, as in 2012, this year’s RAW fair has been preceded by a preview tasting, hosted by the ever-charming event organiser Isabelle Legeron MW and held in the outrageously august setting of Bethnal Green’s art deco former council chamber (now an appurtenance of the award-winning Town Hall Hotel). Here assembled bloggers and wine trade pros were treated to a small selection of the wines available on May 19th - 20th, all of which danced across the palate like an Oompa Loompa on a sugar high. 
There was a rich-textured white Toscana with aromas of scrumpy cider, lovely savoury notes and a lemony yet creamy finish; two unputdownable ‘orange wines’ (whites made like reds, with skin-contact maceration): one a gorgeous, complex chardonnay from Slovenia, the other a kvevri-fermented rkatsiteli from Georgia (in which I noted clove, allspice, pine, cooked apples, violets and lemon, among vague others); a terrifically tannic Tuscan sangiovese (cherry, manure, meat browning) that went especially well with fatty pork belly; and a Venetian sweet red made from the (to me) untried garganega grapes, thick with dried figs, toffee and heady, nail varnish-like alcohol, and which I would have happily bathed in given the chance.     
So there it is, wine lovers. RAW 2013, May 19th - 20th, The Old Truman Brewery: your golden ticket to a sensational wine tasting experience. 
**RAW, The Artisan Wine Fair: **
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1.
Sunday May 19th: open to all.
Monday May 20th: day - press and trade only; evening - open to all.
Tickets online: £20 (all tastings free with your ticket).
For more information, please visit:
For the latest updates on RAW 2013, you can follow RAW on Twitter: @RAWfair
**Written by:** Darren Smith.