Wine started life a simple commodity but it has now been hijacked by fashion and consumerism. Natural wines are a nostalgic snapshot of what wine was like before hi-tech got involved. Understanding the science behind making wine has been very positive but we have gone too far and rather than using science to produce wines with as little intervention as possible we use it to gain absolute control over every single aspect of growing grapes and making wine. Very little is left to nature.
For me, natural wines are about coming full circle and going back to basics and simplicity. They are real and raw.
Thanks to their innate individuality and ‘new’-ness as a category on the international wine scene, they are wines with little homogeneity, consensus or indeed regulation so my enquiry into them and their world is going to be an ‘organic’, shape-shifting process. Let me know if I have missed anything. I’m hoping this site will provide you with a framework so that you can explore these great wines.
There is no official definition of ‘natural wine’ so here is one that I have come up with after a lot of tasting, reading and talking to producers.
Natural wine is made from grapes that are, at a very minimum, farmed organically or biodynamically, harvested manually and then made without adding / or removing anything during the vinification process. Ideally nothing is added at all but – at most – there might be a dash of SO2 at bottling. A handful of farmers manage to produce great wines without adding any SO2 whatsoever.
It's basically good old grape juice fermented into wine. As nature intended.
The cellar is simply the place to guide what is fundamentally a naturally occurring phenomenon rather than a high-tech lab, full of gadgets and sacks of sugar, tartaric acid and powdered tannins.
It is still a small movement, which isn’t particularly well known but it is time to take it seriously.
Producing natural wine is like walking on a tight rope without the safety net. Detractors of natural wines claim that it is sloppy / lazy winemaking and to be fair to such critics, you do find deviant / faulty natural wines out there. Too much volatile acidity, too much brett, refermenting wines, but there are faulty wines in both camps: conventional and natural.
Great natural wine producers are not only very brave but they are exceptional men and women who not only deeply respect the land they farm in the terra madre sense of the word but they are also great observers of nature with great knowledge and sensitivity. I have learnt more (and still am) about wine from these producers than from anyone else or any books.
This website is dedicated to these farmers who, through the love of their vines have brought wine back to its roots, giving it a simple sensuality that resonates to a growing number of us.