The 2008 London International Wine Fair promises a stronger focus on the on-trade, especially sommeliers, with a variety of events scheduled and a visitors' guide with details of on-trade suppliers, specific feature stands and visiting winemakers. Here's a taster of what's on offer.
The new vintages of the Rive Haute regional labels will be shown for the first time. The range represents all the regions of South-west France. A Saint-Mont red, white and ros‚, as well as a Madiran, will be included.
Rive Haute was launched last year, with 10 wines, and has already made a mark on the independent sector, with listings in Wheeler Cellars, Coe Vintners and Playford Ros, St Martin's Vintners and Rodney Densem Wines.
The top-of-the-range wines are represented by a "reserve"-level trio of Saint-Mont red, white and ros‚, as well as an AOC Madiran and an AOC Pacherenc du Vic Bilh.
Three entry-level dual-varietals are a Colombard-Sauvignon, a Tannat-Cabernet Ros‚ and a Merlot-Tannat. Two single-varietals, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Tannat, are available in small quantities.
The AOC Languedoc stand will be offering a thorough selection of South of France wines, presenting both AOC Languedoc wines and premium categories.
After the successful UK launch of the new AOC Languedoc to the trade in January, the first wines to carry the new appellation will be available to taste at the fair. Major Languedoc wineries will be presenting their new ranges of AOC Languedoc wines in red, white and rosé.
Premium Grands Terroirs and Super Premium Excellence wines will be presented in advance of the launch of the two new categories.
The effort to organise Languedoc wines into three clear categories unifies the region and the offering, which in time will help consumers understand the wines and the South of France region better.
Raimat, in DO Costers del Segre, the largest family-owned vineyard in Europe, has unveiled a new image with the launch of a new range of wines, packaging and closures to mark a new era of winemaking.
Grupo Codorn¡u has overhauled the Raimat brand image to satisfy the needs of the 21st-century consumer, investing heavily in research, viticulture and oenology. The new Raimat range will be showcased on the Grupo Codorn¡u stand.
Douro Valley The Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP) stand will showcase Douro wines and aged ports from Barros, Burmester, Calem, Dacosta, Gilberts, Hutchenson, Kopke and Quinta Dona Matilde.
Winemaker Carla Ferreira will be showing a new wine called Conceito. New vintages will also be on show from Christiano van Zeller, winemaker at Quinta Vale Dona Maria and Quinta de Roriz.
For tired, weary and frazzled fair-goers, the IVDP will once again be providing its "oasis in the desert" area. Opening from 12.30pm to 2pm every day of the show, the IVDP stand will feature a daily-changing lunch menu, carefully matched to selected Douro wines and ports, in a tranquil setting.
The IVDP lunch is by invitation only, so please contact Charlie Goblet D'alviella at Westbury Communication on 020 7751 9170 for further information and details.
Great Western Wine
To celebrate Great Western Wines' 25th anniversary, it will be showing exciting hand-crafted wines from some of the smaller producers it has discovered over the years.
Viňa Leyda in San Antonio, Chile, will introduce its first vintages of Riesling and Sauvignon Gris alongside established favourites.
Carlos Pulenta's old vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina, is complemented by the vibrant fruit that comes from his Vistalba vineyard in the Valle de Uco - the new vintage of Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon will be on stand to try.
Great Western's producers from Australia have continued to win a host of gold and silver medals at home and abroad. Stuart Watson, from Woodlands in Margaret River, will be showing two new examples of Woodlands' Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wines of Turkey Wines of Turkey, a new body representing 10 Turkish wineries, will be making its debut as part of its "Discover the roots" campaign, which aims to show how the country has evolved from being the birthplace of wine to become a modern producer of contemporary styles.
Wineries in attendance will be Buyulubag Wines, Corvus Wines, Doluca Wines, Gulor Wines, Kalecik Wines, Kavaklidere Wines, Kocabag Wines, Kayra Wines, Pamukkale Wines and Sevilen Wines.
Visitors will be able to taste the best that the country has to offer in the "Turkish Top 20" - a showcase of wines made with both international and indigenous grape varieties selected by the participating wineries.
Stand C60, B60
Champagne house Philipponnat will launch the 2000 vintage of its Cuvée 1522, which commemorates the first historical record of the Philipponnat family in Mareuil-sur-Ay. It will be presented by Charles Philipponnat, of the family's 16th generation, who now runs the business.
This is the first time the Champagne house will be exhibiting at the fair. It recently appointed leading UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene to develop distribution in the high-end on-trade sector.
The 2007 vintage of successful Castel brand Virginie - a range of classic varietal wines from the vin de pays d'Oc - will be available for tasting.
Created in 1989, Virginie is one of the first domaines in the Languedoc to work with a network of growers and specify its own selection of fruit parcels.
The brand comprises a wide selection of varietals from the Languedoc, vinified on site by Castel group winemaker Cédric Jenin and his team. Jenin will be on hand to answer any winemaking-related questions.
Wines of Argentina
Visiting winemakers on the Wines of Argentina stand will include Paul Hobbs (Viňa Cobos), Alberto Antonini (Altos Las Hormigas), Hans Vinding-Diers (Bodega Noemia), José Zuccardi (Familia Zuccardi), and Susana Balbo (Dominio del Plata).
Wineries exhibiting for the first time will include Bodega Huarpé.
Stand Q9 will host the Malbec New Release tasting, with as many as 100 Malbecs, priced from £5.99 to £14.99, that have just entered the UK market or are about to arrive.
On Wednesday 21 May at 3.15pm Tim Atkin MW will host an hour-long seminar entitled "Why Argentina matters".
Three famous non-Argentine winemakers - Paul Hobbs, Alberto Antonini and Hans Vinding-Diers - will be speaking, and will discuss why they have invested in Argentina and what potential they see in the country from a winemaking perspective.
Stands P20, Q18, Q9 and P30.
1. LIWF 2008,incorporation the new spirits show Distil, will take place on 20-22 May at ExCel in London's Docklands. Visitors can register for free entry badges at the London Wine Fair website >>
2. There will be a Top 100 Tasting, showcasing the best organic and biodynamics wines, chosen by an expert panel of wine writers. The tasting will feature wines at different price points, representing both Old and New Worlds, all selected on the basis of overall quality, consistency and value.
3. A schedule of Italian Wine Seminars, hosted by industry experts, will take place over the three days. The 45-minute seminars will be tasting-led, focussing on individual regions, but will also consider the modernisation of winemaking techniques and export potential.
Regions participating in the Italian Wine Seminars will be Sardinia, Tuscany, Lazio, Lombardy, Piemonte, Sicily and Abruzzo. Three further seminars, organised by the Italian Trade Commission, and covering subjects such as the FederDoc and traceability, have also been scheduled.
Speakers will include Peter McCombie MW, Michele Shah and Charles Metcalfe.