A few years ago I was visiting some friends in a quaint little village not far from Rome, where we had some lovely freshly-made pasta complimented by some absolutely delicious red wine.
Several bottles and a good deal of lively banter later, it was mentioned that the wine we were imbibing was a local brew made by the proverbial ‘little old lady up the road’ who had her own small vineyard, and that ‘said wine’ was free from any preservatives or chemicals.
After saying our goodbyes later in the evening (and possibly waking up the neighborhood in the process), we were promptly given 3 bottles of the stuff as a parting gift. Little did I know that it was the start of beautiful love affair that has gone unabated for well over two decades.
Since that day, I have drunk many a good red, but most haven’t come close to matching those slightly ambiguous, unembellished reds that often had a little cloudiness to them but were ever so sweet and earthy.
Natural wine is becoming the buzzword among winegrowers these days, as artisan producers opt for less chemical intervention in their craft, with nothing added or stripped in the processing, and using a far more organic or biodynamic approach to their growing methods along the way.
Conventional wines that dominate the shelves of supermarkets or bottle shops, or for that matter, the wine menus at our favourite restaurants, are more often than not, manipulated with sulfites, sugars, extra yeasts and fining agents, that might be derived from egg whites, volcanic clay, or god-forbid – even fish bladders. None of these need to be listed on the labels either!
“You can literally manipulate everything about a wine,” says Isabelle Legeron, the author of “Natural Wine”
Fairs and festivals promoting Natural wines are popping up all over the place too – this year we had the NYC and the Berlin Artisan Wine fairs, and early next year we have the same in London, as more and more people discover the beauty that is less chemical, more natural when sampling their favourite tipple.
Natural wines were also recognised in the recent Australian 2016 Young Guns of Wine awards, giving top honours to natural wine producer Josephine Perry, of Dormilona in Margaret River.
Surprisingly, natural wines are not just limited to reds but also come in a range of Champagnes, Rosés, Chardonnays among others, with a diversity of growers from all over the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere.
So next time you reach for a Red to have with your favourite cheese, head for the Naturals on the shelf and prepare to have your palate forever changed by these earthy and uniquely satisfying wines – you’ll wonder where they have been all your life!