The show in 2019 had more exhibitors than ever before. Many friends of the show returned to London and were joined by a number of producers attending for the first time.
The 2019 edition of the Big Fortified Tasting took place at Church House in Westminster on Tuesday 16th April 2019 – a date which was a little difficult for some people due to it falling within the Easter school holidays. The date for 2020 (Thursday 23rd April) has been selected so as to avoid the school holidays and also not to clash with the Jerez fair, in order to maximise the opportunity for Andalusian producers to bring their wines.
The show in 2019 had more exhibitors than ever before. Many friends of the show returned to London and were joined by a number of producers attending for the first time. We were delighted to welcome two producers from the Azores island of Pico who had to take a boat ride, three flights, a train journey and a Tube trip to get to Church House. We also had the pleasure of welcoming the winemaking team from the community owned vineyards of Villa Oeiras in Carcavelos and the all-female team from CAF Madeira.
We hear rumours that the team from CAF may be seen again soon if you are a fan of the Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer TV series the Wine Show.
It was also very rewarding to have worked closely with Extenda and the Consejo Regulador de Jerez to enable us to host 13 Andalusian producers at the show, our largest number yet, and to facilitate a Masterclass which covered several different styles of Andalusian wines under the expert guidance of César Saldaña.
In all, the trade-only visitors to our show were offered the opportunity to participate in 4 masterclasses covering Andalusia, Madeira, White Port and Late Bottled Vintage Port.
In the main showroom 13 Andalusian, 7 Madeira, 32 Port and 10 producers from other regions presented a total of 345 different wines. For the first time we hosted a Feature Table, which this year allowed Port producers to showcase their vintage wines from 2015, 2016 and 2017. The success of the Feature Table means it will return in 2020 – and will focus on Vermouth wines from around the world. Located at the entrance to the main Showroom and where people wait to join their masterclasses this will build on the growing interest in this style of fortified wine.
Visitor numbers were down a little in 2019 compared to 2020 due mainly to the show being held during the school holidays, but the people who visited to meet the producers were very interested in the products and influential in the buying, selling, serving or promotion of the wines. The fact the show was a little less busy gave everyone more opportunity to talk to each other about the wines being shown.
In May the weekend Financial Times featured an article on the Andalusian wines presented at the show, further raising the profile of these fortified wines.
30% of our visitors came from the on-trade, including representatives from Barceloneta, Kwant, the Fat Duck, a number of London’s private member’s clubs, the Café Royal and many other leading London and provincial hotels.
40% of the visitors came from the off-trade, including independent wine merchants from Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Germany, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain and the US; Berry Brothers & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, the Wine Society, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, the Co-Op, Sainsbury, Marks & Spencers, Waitrose, South African Airways and over 30 independent UK wine merchants.
The remaining 30% of visitors were writers, educators and consultants with some of the best known names being Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, Richard Mayson, Stephen Brook, Alex Liddell, Philip Rowles and Jane MacQuitty covering publications including Decanter, Harpers Wines & Spirits, The Independent, The Times and World of Fine Wine. Bloggers and online writers from the websites The Port Forum, Skin + Pulp and vintageport.se also attended the show.
We look forward to welcoming old friends and new faces to the next show in 2020. We will see you at Church House on 23rd April.