Les Caves embraces the unorthodox. Or perhaps it would be fairer to say that the unorthodox embraces Les Caves.
We are now well into flaming June and the year seems to be following a pattern of weather aphorisms (April showers; ne’er cast a cloud till May is out…). Yes, it is all a bit Shepherd’s Calendar-ish. Nice to have four seasons. Minus winter. Three seasons.
Being the alternate year to the one in which we organise The Real Wine Fair, we resolved to pack a lot into the early months. Perhaps too much! As well as trips abroad and fairs in foreign climes, and multiple trade grower visits, we organised a northern tasting; a Real Wine spin-off called Real Wine in the Vines (in an English vineyard, appropriately enough); and most recently, a tour/travelling circus across the country featuring our South African producers.
Being the alternate year to the one in which we organise The Real Wine Fair, we resolved to pack a lot into the early months. Perhaps too much!
We are focusing more than ever on the quality of something (i.e. the experience for the participants) rather than the quantity (any financial reward, numbers of visitors etc.). Real Wine in the Vines invited select UK organic, biodynamic, regenerative and natural wine producers to the vineyard of Woodfine Wine in the chalky Chilterns. A tasting in a stretch tent, no less. Trade visitors were invited, but this was no simple dip-in-and-dip-out event, rather a commitment for the day, an opportunity to chill out in the countryside as well as to talk to the producers and sample their wines. We think it is important to have a distinctive focus (be it theme or format) for most tastings, rather than try to be all things to all people. Singing and dancing, but not all singing and dancing. The event in question should be a comfortable, even enjoyable, experience for all concerned.
Our South African tour, meanwhile, styled Springbok into Summer, was an exercise in building relationships between our growers and the customers, which was achieved through tasting wine, telling stories and jokes, and simply having a beer together. Cruises, picnics, punting, rambles and barbecues were the order of the days, along with lunching (from Michelin-star nosh to devouring fish-and-chips with curry sauce on a park bench), dining and wining in a wide variety of establishments. The subject of wine is always about the places and the people who make it, the stories they tell, and the pictures they conjure. There is little chance to connect properly with a grower when they are communicating little other than technical information in a crowded, noisy room.
We are focusing more than ever on the quality of something, i.e. the experience for the participants, rather than the quantity (any financial reward, numbers of visitors etc.).
We know that the weather is capricious in the UK, but it adds a significant dimension to an occasion when any elements of a tasting can be brought into the open air. I believe that wines shine when they are exposed to natural light, sunshine and fresh air. The palates of tasters are also sharpened by these conditions.
Les Caves embraces the unorthodox. Or perhaps it would be fairer to say that the unorthodox embraces Les Caves. We’ve had major tastings affected by an erupting Icelandic volcano and the London Marathon – amongst others. We hosted a wine dinner for 250 people where the five chefs had almost no equipment to cook with. We’ve bamboozled visitors with our “high concept” format called “Drinking Outside The Box” in which the order of the wines was dictated by terroir, style, feeling and fermentation vessel! I am not saying that our next tasting will be in a cage suspended in the ocean surrounded by Great White Sharks – but give us time! Doing things differently tests our mettle and keeps our customers on their toes. #wingandaprayer