I’ve been to countless beer festivals: from small events in local town halls to the impressive Leeds International Beer Festival. But never had I been to one with wine as the focus. So, when I was invited to ‘Grapeful’, Leeds first ever ‘pop-up’ wine festival on the late May bank holiday weekend, I was intrigued to find out what it entailed.
As we walked into Leeds’ stunning town hall I noticed that there were a lot less people than at the International Beer Festival which gave it an air of exclusivity. Tables were arranged around the main hall, each labelled with a number which corresponded to a different country, from Greece and Lebanon to South Africa and the USA. There were in fact a total of 100 wines available to taste from 25 different countries… we couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
Jake and I decided to start at table number one and work our way around the hall, sampling one white wine from each. Our favourite was the South African Chenin Blanc. We then made our way into the winemaker’s hall to try some samples from several independent wineries from various countries around the world. The standout one for me was the Sauvignon Blanc from Waipara Springs in New Zealand. At £15 per bottle, it’s not easy on the pocket, but as far as drinkable wines go, this one really was up there. Fresh, uplifting, slightly zesty on the palette, this was a wine that I could imagine myself sipping in my garden on a hot summer’s day.
We then went back into the main hall to try and taste one red wine on each of the tables. However, we were a little disappointed to find that many of the wines we wanted to sample, such as the French Chateauneuf-du-Pape, had run out. I did think that this was a shame, because it was only 6pm in the evening and the festival didn’t finish until 10pm.
This being said, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event and I relished the opportunity to try so many different wines from across the globe. If there is a larger supply of wines and perhaps more food choices for next year’s event, it really will be a fantastic festival.