What is the fuss with "Natural Wine"
Wine Importer | Wine List Consultant | Speaker
If you are anything like me, the first time you heard the term "natural wine", you said to yourself 'Isn't ALL wine natural?"...
Alas, my friends, no.
Right now, particularly in the small bar scene in Aus, there is a move toward these so called natural wines...to the point of it being both intriguing and a little annoying. Sometimes, I just want to go to a bar and have a glass of Riesling that is filtered and doesn't taste like apple cider. Anyone feel me?
For those that don't know, "Natural" is the term given to low intervention, spontaneous ferments, no sulfur added, unfined/unfiltered styles of wine, they are usually low yield and production as well. Essentially, it's fermented grapes without intervention. Viticulture has a lot to do with the success of a natural wine. If the fruit isn't good, the wine definitely will not express itself the way the wine maker intended. They usually give off a funky/sour kind of character. With sparklings that have been fermented in bottle, the yeasty bits stay in the bottle and this is called a 'pet nat'. A lot of these wines don't age very well. Some aren't very stable and should be drunk within a couple of months. Some are 'normal' enough to leave in a cellar for a year and develop wonderfully. It's so varied.
When I first hear the term "natural wine" i thought, "what is more natural than wine". As I've always drank European wines that use practises that go back for centuries, the idea of chemical and technical intervention in the process seemed foreign to me. Over the years, so many additives have crept into the wine making process to extend the yeilds that I like the thought of drinking something free from this kind of thing.
I love our Sensi Wines which I know are all minimal intervention, I love Tenuta Mara which produce biodynamic, skin contact and unfiltered but CLEAN wines. I love Born & Raised Wines who focus on biodynamic principles, a little skin contact and unfiltered wines. I love how expressive all the wines from these producers are. I love that Marrenon's vineyards are all inside a conservation park so there is no use of sprays or other chemicals throughout the vineyards. I love the wines coming out of Austria and Germany right now with some rebel, young winemakers. Even though these wines look "normal", they are all made in a natural way. I love what Patrick Sullivan, Tonic and Unico Zelo are doing in Australia. There are lots of wonderful examples of 'natural wines' without it being too crazy to drink.
My issue with the term Natural is how it's all gone a little too far. There are too many hipsters making Skin-Contact white wines when they should actually be brewing beer. There are too many restaurants serving $16 glasses of wine that are undrinkable or taste like nothing simply because they are 'natural'. If there is lower intervention, why are they so much more expensive than wines than the average wine. Some are so far to the cloudy, fruit juice end that it turns the older consumers away from even trying them.
I like the idea and principles of Natural Wine, I really do but I do want to see a lot of them looking a bit more 'mainstream' so they can be drinkable by all, not just the hipster few..or for people who can afford a $40-$50 bottle every night. It's important for there to be more awareness given to the movement in a positive way and to put pressure on the big producers to take a good look at the unsustainable practises within their vineyards and wineries....
What are your thoughts on natural wines? Do you have any favourites?