As part of London Wine Week 2017, Drink Up London has transformed the Oval Space warehouse in Hackney into a giant summer vineyard serving wines from all across Europe, perfect for wining and dining and discovering new favourites for your next picnic or dinner party.
Upon entering the space, we were immediately greeted with Regal Rogues’ Australian vermouths at their special Rogue Terrace, a wonderful outdoor space overlooking the Hackney borough-scape, complete with cushy seats and beanbags to lie back and relax on. Regal Rogues offered various forms of their four different vermouths – either on the rocks or long, as a cocktail.
Having never tried Regal Rogues before, the cocktails were a surprisingly easy entry point into the fortified wine. We were particularly taken with their wonderfully refreshing Wild Rose vermouth served with Fever Tree Sicilian Lemon, fresh lemon and a sprig of mint, and their Bold Red served with Fever Tree Ginger Beer, fresh orange and a slice of ginger, the polar opposite to the Wild Rose providing a spicy kick to the tastebuds. What’s also pretty cool is that Regal Rogue’s vermouths contains 30% less sugar than other vermouths on the market, and taste just as good, if not better.
Heading into the indoor portion of the Oval, we loved how Drink Up really stuck to the vineyard theme and draped vines from the ceiling with a DJ playing some funky summer beats at the front of the space. With a total of four wine vendors inside, we checked out the sherries from Jerez, Spain. When one thinks of sherry, one automatically thinks of sweet alcohols perfect for a tiramisu, which we got a taste of in the form of the Harveys 12YO Signature from Bodegas Fundador, a creamy sherry that reminded us of raisins and other dried fruit, along with notes of hazelnut and sandalwood. But what we were also introduced to was the whole spectrum of options available for sherry, such as the Goyesco Amontillado from Rodriguez La Cave, a refreshingly light, dry sherry that really left a spark in your mouth with each sip, completely different from the ultra sweet ones we were more used to. Sherry is definitely a form of wine that has plenty of potential to break into the market as more than just a sweet wine, and we’d love to explore it more should we get the chance to in future, having left a lasting impression on us at the Wine Edit.
No Wine Week is complete without featuring some of the spectacular blends from the Spanish Ribera del Duero and the French Loire Valley, both of which had booths set up at The Wine Edit. From the Loire Valley, The 2015 Coteaux-du-Layon-Rablay from Chateau La Tomaze, a chenin blanc, enchanted us with its rich, sweet, fruity taste, almost honeyish and easy to drink, as if it were ambrosia itself. Meanwhile, the Ribera captivated us with their selection of reds sourced from grapes grown in the high-altitude mountains vineyards: the 2014 Cair Cuvee from Dominio de Cair, a full-bodied blend of merlot and tempranillo bursting with ripe berry flavours alongside a hint of smokiness, as well as the 2013 Torremilanos from Finca Torremilanos, silky and tasting of both berries and a hint of herb.
Nobody drinks wine by itself of course, and Drink Up London also brought in Wine & Rind to provide food in the form of cheese boards to pair with the wines, including a burrata board and a mortadella board that came with bologna. We ourselves ordered their 3 cheese board, and enjoyed how the hearty flavours of the cheese complemented our wines from Loire and Ribera nicely.
Finally, we checked out the iconic aged Tawny Port port from Graham’s. It was explained to us that the rich, full-bodied flavours of the port went perfectly with creamy tastes, such as the custard tarts it was served with. At the Wine Edit, the port was served chilled, which further enhanced the flavour. Sipping on their 10 year aged Tawny port before biting into a tart, we couldn’t agree more, and it really made for a perfect way to end off our Wine Edit experience. Did you also know that port comes in the form of a white wine as well? Apparently it’s Graham’s fourth best-selling port after the three aged ones they brought in for the Wine Edit! Not just a Christmas drink, port is almost certainly on the up and coming, and we were told that there may be a port festival in the works this coming August with Time Out London!
Although a little limited in the number of vendors (we would have loved some tapas to go with the wine!), Drink Up London’s Wine Edit is a well-curated affair, with a combination of crowd pleasers and fascinating alternative wines to satisfy the curious of palate. Drink Up has definitely upped our appreciation for wine and helped us unearth a thirst to explore further for more wines and more ways to enjoy it.
London Wine Week’s Wine Edit is on at the Oval Space till 10th June. For tickets and more details, check out their website here