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Do you believe in the myth of a "Natural Wine" ?


Don Giovanni
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Do you believe in the myth of a "Natural Wine" ?

as I become more educated on this subject I find it very hard to believe in ... losing faith with each book I read and with each conversation I learn from...as a proponent of using the most natural methods of making wine you might think that I would be the biggest preacher of the "Natural Wine Movement" personally I see it as a hoax only developed as a way of marketing wine...

as a tool for selling it's great, because it sounds so , well "natural" ... as I see each turn and twist in the winemaking process it has become self evident that the whole movement is built on rules that are ok, so long as you are dismissing the unnatural intervention along the way...

is the natural wine more natural because the weeds have been pulled ?

is the vine natural if you prune the vine and reduce fruit ?

did the vine climb a tree or did you train it on a trellis ?

is the wine natural if you control fermentation temperatures ?

is the wine natural if you add DAP to increase the YAN so you don't get stuck fermentation ?

is the wine natural if you used a bird netting to protect the grapes ?

is the wine natural if you pulled leaves ?

is the wine natural if you drove a carbon fuel vehicle to do work in the vineyard ?

did you spray the vineyard with anything ?

did you irrigate ?

did you tie the vines ?

would any oak be a natural thing to do to a wine ?

is the use of SO2 natural ? if so how much before it's not...

type of closure, glass, plastic, composite, bark cork, screwcap ?

ferment in animal belly , stainless, concrete , oak vats, amphora, anything natural about them ?

Süssreserve or sugar no matter how approved it is

add back Jesus juice units aka water ?

add tartaric acid or any kind of acid ?

add tannin , mega purple-red ?

micro-oxygenate how so ... did you use sparger or different diffuser ?

use spinning cones, reverse osmosis machines ?

did you use a bottle, flask, skin, glass, plastic or membrane to house the final product

did you add a culture to help the ML fermentation ?

did you let the wine sit on the lees?

did you use any frost equipment to prevent frost?

did you use SO2 at the crusher, during the fermentation or pre-bottling ?

Argon, Nitrogen , CO2 for bottling ?

did you use a lab to give you the bio on the grapes, must or wine ?

spontaneous yeast or cultured ?

filter , rack , clarify,Delestage, bâtonnage, Sur lie?

Did you use a rubber hose to transport wine along the way ?

you get my point and I am sure I missed many other things used in "Natural Wine"

..."natural" bah humbug !!!

like I said great marketing ...

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What is the premise of natural wine? How's it differ from "organic"

ok natural wine is made with no added yeast just spontaneous fermentation ... organic grapes or bio-dynamic no added sulfur ...no filtering the wine at all ... oxygenated bottling no inert gas ... very close to organic but with the aforementioned methods...

anything you use to make a better wine is called non natural...if you read the original post this is where the movement shoots itself in the foot...

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Nonsense it is, not sure if it's as big a nonsense as biodynamic wine though.

bio-dynamic winemaking ...you can use sulfur in the vineyard along with coper and fish oil... you use lunar cycles to plant harvest rack etc... you can use cultured yeast ... filter rack etc... you can use sulfur to preserve the wine ...

at least with bio-dynamic wine-making yes you don't spray in the vineyard pesticides ...but you intervene using tea sprays ... using a cows horn with silica ground up in it with manure this is used as a spray on the vineyard after it's dug up for a period of time...

it's the limited intervention that is acknowledged in a very green way... some people don't believe in it ... I do due to experience...

one case in point the trees to make log homes were cut down during a new moon for homes ... these logs lasted over 200 years and counting ... the trees that were cut down during the full moon rotted in 40 years...

another case is racking under a new moon or within 8 days of one the lees are more compressed etc...

strange as it may be we have some proof working the crops and wine during lunar cycles is not lunacy...

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I know nothing about growing grapes or log homes, but I do know a lot about science. When you have multiple variables in an experiment, but study only one, then you have an experiment guaranteed to give uninterpretable results.

There may be something to the lunar stuff, but whether trout feeding periods or log homes, I've never seen a truly well designed study of a lunar influence on anything but tides. So who knows what's actually true?

Natural wine sounds like it would have a philosophical appeal to some, but turning back to clock to less well-controlled conditions almost guarantees a less reproducible product. If unreliable and often inferior results are worth the philosophical advantage then it might be a viable product. But I doubt it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yes "Natural Wine" is most of the time a good marketing shot.

Nevertheless, there is some organic wine making its way into the market with biodynamic systems!

A lot of French Wineyards such as domaine Mortiès use such a system and them really produce natural and organic wine, which gives a more salty taste to it!

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This is all very interesting, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I like the comment above about multiple variables being introduced which, yes, is sure to cause unpredictable results. If the process is scientifically proven in the future, the results could be outstanding, but I'm not sure there is enough raw evidence to support it for better or worse.

It could be something truly great in the making, but the whole paradigm shift to healthier more organic consumption is inevitably producing copycats or people too eager to jump on the wagon. That said I know nothing about the lunar cycle, but from what I'm hearing they may be jumping the gun a bit on the benefits of natural wine.

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  • 1 year later...

Two days ago I attended the RAW Artisan Wine Fair in London. I would really recommend it if anyone can get to the one in Vienna starting June 15 2014 as it was a very informative event.

 

The first thing I did was hear a talk by Isabelle Legeron, a natural wine advocate and the author of Natural Wine. It included a blind tasting of two Pouilly-Fumé samples produced from grapes from the same plot and in the same year, one natural and one conventional. The difference was really amazing; the conventional wine was highly acid and rather monotonous, with (what is often described as) a cat's pee flavour, and lacked the complex grass/vegetal notes that are appreciated in Sauvignon Blanc. It was very pale in colour. The natural example was a rich gold and much thicker in texture and had an exciting, varied aroma. It tasted beautifully of grapes, rather than gooseberries or apples, of leaves and also of cream and almonds, which are not flavours I normally expect from this grape. Unfortunately I was not able to hear the name of the producers.

 

At this point I was ready to become a disciple, but several audience members spoke eloquently during the Q+A on their reasons for doubting the natural wine movement. These included the fact that lack of stabilising ingredients and standardised practices can lead to some very idiosyncratic wines, not all of which express the character of the grape very well in their view. In this light I managed to reserve judgement until I had actually tasted more than one wine...

 

In fact I was a little disappointed. (This should be qualified by noting that I am not at all knowledgeable about wine and went to the fair to learn; it is very possible that I did not understand some of the wines and would have appreciated them more with a better understanding.) I tasted Central European and Balkan whites and French reds, as an arbitrary way of narrowing down the gigantic number of wines available.

 

Among the whites I noted several with a very disconcerting aroma and flavour of cabbage; this confused me because I would have associated this element with sulphur, which is only minimally present in natural wines. Perhaps these were higher-sulphur wines within the group and stood out especially because of the generally low sulphur presence. On the other hand, the variety of the white wines was very impressive and I suppose that was the result of the more variable production methods and of the element of hazard involved in natural fermentation. I particularly noticed some extremely dry whites that also had quite low acidity, and the presence of very pronounced forest flavours of mushrooms, nuts and earth, neither of which I was used to from (cheap :unsure:)  conventional wine. That was especially true of the wines from Georgia. The reds were generally rather sour, which I did not enjoy very much. There are no acidity regulators in natural wine, so perhaps that's the reason. I tasted fewer of these as I was getting less able to taste properly by that point.

 

The first wine I tasted out in the hall, Stag Beetle Earthbarell Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay from Weingut Andreas Tscheppe, was however spectacular. I will try to get around to posting some detailed comments on it and some other wines I tasted when I get home and have my notes on hand.

 

Apart from my opinion of individual bottles, I was very much impressed by the producers that I encountered at the fair. It was not at all my impression that natural wine is a marketing strategy for them; indeed several of them expressed their values with respect to care for nature, tradition and heritage, organic methods and so on with great feeling and it was apparent that they make extensive and profound sacrifices in terms of profit and production scale in service of these and I was absolutely convinced of their sincerity.

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That's very interesting, Plantes Vertes.  Thanks for resurrecting this topic, which I'd missed before now.  Please do post your tasting notes when you can.

 

I'm inclined to agree with the posters above who note that having multiple variables and failing to control or account for them is generally a poor practice that leads to inaccurate results.   I'm also inclined toward favoring environmentally friendly alternatives in our own long-term self-interest, as long as the results are good.  I'll have to start reading more about this topic and working out the difference between 'organic' and 'raw' in the context of wine.

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Thanks for the report, Plantes Vertes. I've encountered some organic and biodynamic wines in my tastings, but not enough to form  a clear impression as compared to conventional wines. Talk about multiple variables in producing wines, though: terroir, weather, and the winemaker's skill! Not to mention the differences in varietals, and the fact that many wines are blends to balance out flaws. Very hard to assess these organic/biodynamic wines in a scientific way. Then at the end of the road, people taste differently. Interesting question, though.

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Recently visited a few highly respected vineyards that are big proponents of biodynamic farming, and while I don't buy in to the hippie-ish side of things (burying a cow horn full of manure by the light of a full moon), I believe that anything that gets the winemaker out into the field and focused on their vines on a more regular basis is a good thing. It doesn't much matter if the specific biodynamic practices have any discernible positive effect, so long as they don't have a measurably negative one, because a more mindful, connected winemaker will, all things being equal, produce a better product.

Edited by KD1191 (log)
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True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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 It doesn't much matter if the specific biodynamic practices have any discernible positive effect, so long as they don't have a measurably negative one, because a more mindful, connected winemaker will, all things being equal, produce a better product.

 

Not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying that so long as biodynamic practices aren't a negative influence, the wine will be better because the winemaker will be mentally connected to the grapes?

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Not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying that so long as biodynamic practices aren't a negative influence, the wine will be better because the winemaker will be mentally connected to the grapes?

 

Not because they will be "mentally connected to the grapes", but by being out in the vineyard more frequently/regularly, and in a mindset where they are focused on or at least more likely/able to notice what's happening because of the rather strict and somewhat out of the ordinary nature of the various "treatments". Basically if the only measurable net benefit of all the hocus pocus is that they pay more attention to what's going on out in the vineyard, it's likely to lead to better results.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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You can, of course, come out the other side...where you spend all your time worrying about getting that horn full of manure buried and not enough about the things that actually matter, but I personally haven't see anyone going to that extreme.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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