Last month we teamed up with Isabelle Legeron MW (AKA “that crazy French Woman” and founder of RAW) to set up the first ever Ottolenghi pop-up wine shop at RAW - the artisan wine fair. Now that the dust has settled, they’ve finally found the time to sit back, relax and tell us the story of these two very exciting days:
‘We've always been big fans of RAW. Unlike any other wine fair, RAW offers a healthy and accessible approach to wine, bringing thousands of wine lovers to east London to taste, discuss and drink some of the world's finest natural wines. When we first pondered to partner with RAW, we were attracted to Isabelle's zero-fuss approach to wine. But it was only when we first met Isabelle and her team for a quick wine tasting that we felt this could just be the perfect match. We decided not only to participate but to host RAW's official fair wine shop both at the show itself and from our on-line store on the 19th and the 20th of May.
On-line we offered around 30 wines made by growers who attended the fair, but the real deal was the setup, from scratch, of the pop-up wine shop in less than a day. With more than 90 wines to display from all over the world, this proved to be quite a challenge. Our goal was to create an Ottolenghi styled wine shop, with us ready to give the most professional advice, complimented with lots of Ottolenghi goodies. We aimed to create a knowledgeable yet welcoming and relaxed wine atmosphere.
The early hours of Sunday morning, just before the official kick off, was both stressful and exciting. By 6AM hundreds of bottles, 25 wooden wine boxes, 5kg of grissini, 3Kg of salted caramel brittles, one hugely impressive flower arrangement and other bits and pieces were waiting to be assembled into our little wine shop. After pulling through some last-minute glitches, things took shape and by 9am the Ottolenghi Wine Shop was, magically (and according to plan) born and ready for business.
The fair itself? Everything happened so fast but we enjoyed every minute. Busy from our first sale early on Sunday until the last bottle was sold late on Monday afternoon, our shop turned out to be an ideal meeting place. Fair goers came not only to buy a bottle to take back home but also to talk about wine, ask for advice, open a bottle for a quick lunch outdoors or even just to munch some grissini and brittles. We met old and new friends from all over the world, including growers, sommeliers, wine importers and wine lovers and even found the time to taste some of the most exciting wines we’ve ever had.
Finally for all you figure lovers out there, here's a breakdown of how RAW unfolded:
200 growers and their vineyard representatives showing the wines of 169 vineyards
1 cider producer
1 importer of proper sake
1 London brewery
1 natural tea tasting bar
923 visits by consumers/wine amateurs/drinkers
1996 visits by trade individuals
153 press visitors from around the world
We will let you know about the 2014 dates as soon as they are set, just to make sure you don’t miss the most exciting wine event of 2014.
Gal Zohar, Ottolenghi sommelier