I’ve just returned from the hot and dusty fairground known as the London International Wine Fair 2008, held at Excel, the vast newly built aircraft hanger at the Royal Docks in East London.

It is gigantic and impersonal, the hall so long that you could get a Formula 1 car up to full speed from a standing start and still brake before reaching the end wall.

Moved from the heady, stifling edifice of the late Victorian shed known as Olympia, near the Princess Di end of Kensington, the exhibition now brings wine growers, makers and dealers from all over the globe to huddle under one sybaritic roof.

One and a half thousand exhibitors take their three day stand hoping to be discovered by wine merchants or supermarkets, in order to establish their indelible mark on a future vinous fortune.

Like some diploma students at the end of an art school career, they hope their bed or their cow may emulate the fortunes of Emin or Hirst. How wrong these guys can often be.

Distressingly, it is often the guys who turn up by the way.

The girls, who now account for 38% of the world’s talented wine makers, are sadly often excluded from the melée.

This is where Portuguese barons in Saville Row suits, Church’s brogues and yellow tank tops meet their British counterparts in dodgy M&S blazers with embossed RAF crests on the top pocket, where aspirant Maltese and Turkish Chardonnay planters vie with hard hitting Californian bankers desperate to sell some of the most dubious expressions of the white grape known to man.

This year however, was worse. A bonfire of the vanities no less.

I normally look to seek out the year’s vintages, modest producers or avail myself of small independent growers, seeking a suitable partnership on behalf of our company and our customers in general.

So after tasting 218 wines over two days (all spat out, you will understand) I was exhausted, or at least my tongue brain co-ordination was.

I was then invited to a stand peppered by pop stars, “I’m a Celebrity” lookalikes and footballers. I tried a flight of wines from the less than hirsute David Ginola. His Coste Bulande Rosé got silver which was frankly both delicious and bland in equal measures. His prices, however, could not be recommended to my customers here in Norfolk.

The link between honesty and value are simple watchwords in my line of business, but a concentrated tasting of the supreme golfer from South Africa, Ernie Els, left a lot to be desired in spite of his accolade of silver medals. If you’ve made something approaching a couple of lifetime’s fortunes elsewhere this is surely an attempt at drenching yourself in one of today’s fashionable modern cultures without the necessary risk or, more importantly, passion.

Their wines appear to be a combination of flatteringly adjusting a bathroom mirror and cheating death all at the same time. There is no authenticity, no honesty, no local sourcing and no farmers’ market. These wines are the product 1) of vanity and 2), an overdraft facility that requires servicing in an off-shore bank account.

Wine now appears to have replaced the fitness video as the autobiographical expression of the famous.

Our Peter Pan of pop was represented there with his Vida Nova Reserva, Cliff, or Mr Richards as I’ve come to know him, even put his own foot in his well insured mouth two years ago at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant. His quote will forever remain in my mind, more so than his profound lyrics from former Eurovision song contests, when he quoted in a blind tasting of his own offering, “That’s rubbish, I wouldn’t pay for that. It’s tainted, it tastes like vinaigrette, I’d never buy that”.

Gordon was a little smug in pointing out that it came from Sir Cliff’s own vineyard in Portugal, but it summed up the difference between self esteem and the task of simple wine building and tasting for our own pleasures.

Paul Newman has now added to his less than exciting range of sauces and vinaigrettes with a less than wholesome tie-up of the aptly named winery in California, Three Thieves.

Greg Norman manages to authenticate wines from both California and Australia. God knows how but I am sure the money’s good, if it were not for the fact that it’s our money finally.

One wine stands out, not cheap, not readily available, but a commercial success in his homeland in Napa Valley California, and that is Francis Ford Coppola’s rich, dense inky, demanding Zinfandel. It is rumoured that the wines success paid for Marlon’s obscene fee for Apocalypse Now and ensured the film’s bankrolling and subsequent success. Now, on behalf of the film, that’s one of the few occasions I would raise a glass to the free market.

Although, having said that, next year I’ll probably be blessed with Chateau Jade or Côtes de Rooney. I’ll let you know.