Love em or hate em... like all things wine, Natural wines are about personal taste. I Would also like to add that like all good wines they should be a wine made good. That is why which ever wine club you might be in I urge you to taste Natural wines from Germany.
Natural wine has taken part of the wine world by storm. Hated by some and the only real wines for others. Few topics have split the world of wine lovers as much as this topic.
So to be clear let's set some ideas around what is a Natural wine? As just like some natural wines when viewed in the glass the expectations or definitions can be a little murky.
Natural winemaking, despite its more recent popularity, is technically the first and oldest method of making wine. Natural wines follow this ethos “Nothing in - Nothing out”! Just healthy grapes. Its wines that are made with whole lot of hand work in the vineyard while its kinda hands off in the Cellar!
Natural wines; from growing and fermenting to bottling and cellaring are made entirely without chemical intervention and with the bare minimum of technological manipulation. It's as natural as a wine can get, with little to nothing added or subtracted in the winemaking process. To put it very, very simply, it's fermented grape juice and little else.... Nothing in, Nothing out. Just grape juice naturally fermented into wine and then bottled.
While the wine making process may go on with NONE or little intervention as possible. In the vineyard it's a different story. In fact its extremely labour intensive as a result of abstaining from any "chemical intervention" even machine intervention (avoiding heavy machinery ruining soils or even polluting vineyards). This means a whole lot of hand and heart work to carry out natural interventions.
Soil fertility and diversity in the vineyard's ecosystem are vital, meaning problems among the vines, like an invasion of leaf-munching beetles, require rethinking symbioses within the entire operation rather than locating a tank of pesticide spray. So natural wine makers mostly follow Biodynamic grape growing practises. However,Ever hear the phrase a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square? Keep that in mind: a natural wine is organic and sometimes biodynamic, though organic and biodynamic wines are not always natural.
So again where natural wines differ is mostly in the cellar. NO additives or processing aids should be used, and ‘intervention’ in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used ( this is why all Natural Wines should be VEGAN) The result is a living wine – wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology. Almost like that greek yogurt you're told is good for you.
So far Natural wines sound like a good thing right? So why are they so divisive, bagged on by snobby Winelovers who say "Natural wines taste funky, dirty... not pure? One short answer to this is Mousiness (*WTF is Mousiness - explanation below)
Natural wine ( like all wine) needs to be made in an extremely clean way. This doesn't necessarily mean these wines taste "cleaner or more pure at first" then what you might consider normal (conventional wines) or the grapes you mainly drink and know.
Instead, think of "Natural wine" as a RAW un-manipulated, living product with naturally occurring characteristics that are celebrated for their unrefined exciting flavours.
I am not saying that all Natural wines are amazing and you should love them. And for those that have tried a "NATTY WINE" before and hated it and for the first time wanted to eagerly spit it out... well unfortunately you may have come across some "Mousy*" off putting FUNK.
As I started, like all wine... A good wine is a wine made good with attention to detail. Experience in knowing your grapes and the soils they come form and mostly sustainably grown healthy grapes that are gently pressed.
Many wineries and big names are jumping on the "natural bandwagon" as demand grows so you need to trust your taste and a good winemaker (maybe even the price - Maybe not too cheap) . A Natural wine with its low intervention and there for more room for error in the way of bad, off putting bacterias leading to wine faults are a tricky wine to get right. Which leads to my final wine point... Why German Natural wines?
Well the germans are known for precision, cleanliness and they are masters of the cooler climate and more so working with more acidity ( Low PH which can help to avoid Mousiness - Bad FUNK). All things that are essential and help to make balanced, smoother, vibrant exciting, funky in a good way natural wine.
Natural wines In Summary
Natural Wines are exciting, distinguished and mostly unfiltered and different from their usual wine/ grape style. The natural wine making approach especially in Europe is advocating a return to the more human approach to winemaking, “the way older generations worked the hills before the industrialization,” in sync with nature and by intuition.
Natural Wines mostly come from, or close to biodynamic vineyard practises. During the winemaking process there shouldn't be any additions or likewise removing of anything as the wine ferments, settles and take its time till its ready to be bottles. Only then there can be a small amount of Sulphites added.
*MOUSINESS = Puppy Breath, Mouse Cage Funk, Stale Cereal.
If you’re uninitiated with the wine fault that is mouse, here’s the elevator pitch. It’s a compound called tetrahydropyridine (THP for short) that makes wine taste like the inside of a mouse cage or, at best, stale cereal grain. It’s not aromatic until it comes into contact with saliva, so you can’t smell it. And somewhere between 30–50% of people can’t even taste it due to the relative pHs of our mouths. If you have come across it you will know.
With the uprising demand for Natural wines and as more wine makers having a go of turning in some cases less desirable grape varieties into glou-glou ( juicy, easy drinking young wines) with cool labels looking to attract Action Bronson. Sometimes their sloppy work, lack of experience and rush to get wines out Results in more Mous about!
If you want to try some tried and tested Natural Wines or Even meet the makes and see for yourself the love that goes into a making a quality Natural wine then book a wine tasting or let me know and i'll plan it in for a GRAPE DAY out on tour.