Beyond Packaging with Vin Naturel
The ‘vin nature’ movement extols as it’s primary virtue that a wine must reflect as honestly as possible the millisème that it was made, the terroir where it was grown and ultimately, the skill and soul of the winemaker. Entirely organic in the vineyard, it's proponents attempt to maintain the ‘signature’ of ‘the place’ throughout all stages of vinification. In practice this means the addition of little or no sulfites, allowing the indigineous yeasts that already exist in the soil to work their magic, and no filtering or fining. They buck the trend towards using international varietals, embracing instead the traditional grapes of their region.
This ‘vinideology’ and the resulting wines are in sharp contrast to the plethora of generic Merlots, Cabernets and Chardonnays that are filling the shelves of our stores. These wines are not always bad, they have simply lost their sense of place. Their character, instead of reflecting the typicity of the terroir is due instead to manufactured yeasts and other ‘modern’ viticultural techniques which guarantee a consistent, if unexciting, product year after year. What’s left is up to the marketing departments with emphasis placed on cool bottle shapes, sexy labels and hipster ad campaigns. The wine becomes secondary as it all kinda tastes the same anyway.
So are the ‘Natural Wines’ any better? Many are great and most are an interesting drink, often challenging my preconceptions about both the varietal and the region. Are they better for you? I don’t know about that but with less sulfites I can attest to easier mornings after the occasional excessive soirée. Is it good for wine lovers? Definitely. Globalization at it’s best should offer the wine enthusiast an opportunity to discover the plethora of tastes and terroirs that exist in the four corners of the wine world. It would be a shame if the thirst to conquer certain markets means losing regional typicity. I guess that is why I am drawn to these wines and the people that make them.
Over the next couple of posts I will delve into the ‘Natural Wine’ world, reviewing some of my favorites, some that I didn’t quite understand, and others that were just plain weird.
Thanks for reading and check out Basic Juice for another related take on the subject.