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Red Squirrel hits the road for portfolio tasting

Published:  15 August, 2018

Red Squirrel is heading out of London for its annual tasting for the first time, with plans to bring its focus on small artisanal producers to Bristol and Manchester.

This year, the importer’s trade-only tasting will be heading to London on September 4, Bristol on September 6, and Manchester on September 10, with the last two dates marking the first time the importer will head outside of the capital.

Managing director Nik Darlington told Harpers the decision was taken only a few months ago with the objective of celebrating great wines everywhere in the country as well as not becoming too “London-centric”.

“Nearly 40% of our customers are outside London and while many of them do make the heroic effort to get to London for our portfolio tasting and other events, there are many more who we know can’t necessarily spare the time or resources. I’ve been mulling it over for a while and decided to take the plunge and bring the wines and winemakers to them rather than the other way round,” he said.

Organising the roadshow has been a “gargantuan effort” for the small team, Darlington added.

Helping out will be their friends at similarly sized merchant The Knotted Vine, who will be on board for the Bristol and Manchester tastings.

Founder David Knott has collaborated with Red Squirrel for several years on the Out of the Box event, which will take place in London again this year on September 25 alongside half a dozen other small importers.

The Bristol and Manchester events will be the first time the two London-based importers have joined forces together outside London however.

New producers include Swartland farm Môrelig, which has long supplied grapes to neighbours Eben Sadie and Adie Badenhorst.

Winemaker Andrew Wightman began making wine a few years ago on the encouragement of his neighbours and will be in attendance at the Red Squirrel events to present his wines.

Other new South African producers include Bertie Coetzee and his organic Lowerland wines from Prieska in the Northern Cape.

Winery of Good Hope winemaker Jacques de Klerk has also been garnering attention for his Reverie Chenin Blanc from a single vineyard solo project in the Swartland, and this is being shown by Red Squirrel for the first time at all three autumn events.

Red Squirrel’s first Mount Etna producer, Filippo Ayunta, is also going to be in attendance where he will be rubbing shoulders with Hampshire winemaker Jacob Leadley.

Leadley will be presenting wine from his Black Chalk vineyards in Hampshire – red Squirrel’s first English sparkling wine.

And for the first time, there will be a focus on the importers’ wine-on-tap offering.

Wines that are available in KeyKeg, such as organic Verdejo and Bobal from Marsilea in Valencia, or Mauzac and Braucol from Clos Rocailleux in Gaillac, will be available to taste.