Editor’s Note: Justin Roberts is one of our new contributing authors on Catavino.net, having recently agreed to share his experiences of Iberian wine from his home in Jerez de la Frontera (Andalusia). We’re excited to have him aboard as he has a vast amount of knowledge he can contribute to our site after obtaining both the Advanced Wine and Spirits Certification and the Sherry Educator’s Certificate. Couple this with his unique perspectives having lived in South Africa, Argentina and the UK, as well as being from Zimbabwe, and clearly, we have a wonderful new addition to our site.
Last week I spent every hour possible at the sixth edition of Vinoble. Held every two years, this wine fair is unusual because it focuses on noble, fortified and sweet wines. A particularly attractive idea to me since I love wines along those lines. The old favorites were all represented, but also new and interesting and even experimental wines. It was almost impossible for me to take in everything over the four days of the fair, but I tried my best!
Apart from the wines, something else is a bit different and a bit special about Vinoble: The venue. This great wine experience takes place in the “Alcazar”, an ancient Moorish fortress, at the heart of the famous sherry town, Jerez de la Frontera. A truly beautiful setting. Most trade fairs are in large exhibition halls, often far from the action, with rows and rows of stands which seem to merge together. The Jerez Alcazar on the other hand has many different indoor and outdoor spaces and these are all used to great effect, making Vinoble something quite unique. Inside the Alcazar there are Arab gardens, a restored mosque, an 18th century palace, olive mill and a tower. The gardens and palace were used to lay out exhibitor stands and the mosque, mill and tower for tutored tastings and presentations.
Being central, near the main square and minutes walk from tapas bars and restaurants is a great advantage for the fair. Very convenient for the three-hour lunch-break taken every day. It’s a wine fair with a great feeling, professional but friendly and relaxed all at the same time.
For some of the regular exhibitors I spoke to, sherry producers mainly, Vinoble is great because most people attending are already very knowledgeable. This year in particular there was not often any need to explain their wines, which usually happens at other fairs. For a change, it felt good to be at the center of a fair, rather than on the periphery. Many exhibitors agreed that Vinoble 2008 was the best so far for them, with more professional interest than in the past.
In my next post, I will go through some of the “discoveries” I made at Vinoble.