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LWF: Esoterica - A fair within a fair

Published:  03 May, 2016

The upper floor of the Kensington Olympia is buzzing this morning.

The upper floor of the Kensington Olympia is buzzing this morning. 

Wines are being unpacked, people are moving from stall to stall, chatting and making last minute adjustments.

Esoterica has the feel of a street-market - at least this is the view of Dario Langella, director of Vineyards Direct, who said it's on-the-street vibe is part of the attraction for merchants looking to discover boutique importers to the UK trade.

He said: "It has a street-market feel which is quite nice. We don't have the budget of the big distributors or the big banners but we're all in it together."

And it is this collective identity which - despite being made up of smaller importers - gives Esoterica and its participants impressive pulling power when up against the bigwigs.

Red Squirrel's Nik Darlington agrees.

He said: "It's a game changer for small companies; really it's a little fair within a fair. For us it allows retailers to get a flavour of what they're buying. For us it's not a platform, it's the platform."

Following its launch in 2014, Esoterica has returned to LWF with 80 small-scale and specialist importers each displaying around 14 wines each.

It occupies almost the entire length of the Olympia's gallery along one side giving the importers good visibility.

But Giles Budibent of Barton, Brownsdon & Sadler, said that while initiatives like Esoterica give boutique importers a platform, it's up to the importers to do the rest.

"I feel for retailers because there are so many reps running around," he said. "There are some really interesting wines out there. With Esoterica, you're all on an even playing field which is nice, but it's up to the wines to establish a point of difference."

Luis Gamiz, sales manager at Indigo Wines, said they are here for the exposure.

"You get exposed to a wide range of independents merchants," he said. "There's more of a focus on smaller importers than at other fairs."