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[email protected] 08-05-2007 06:45 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 

Has anyone else noticed this term steadily gaining currency over the
last twelve months ?

It used to be something you weren't allowed to say.

Jamie Goode (not exactly a wine hippy) now regularly uses it on his
blog (see here : http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/label...al%20wine.html)
and both he and Alice Feiring are apparently writing books on the
subject.

http://www.morethanorganic.com puts quite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.

Even Hugh Johnson seems to have retracted an article in which he
called the idea of natural wine 'bogus' (see, or rather don't see,
here : http://www.vinography.com/archives/2...tic_wine.html).

It now seems to be current as a way of describing certain fairly
extreme organic wines. These may well need a term distinct from
'organic', but surely there has to be a better alternative ?

Any suggestions ?


Mark Lipton[_1_] 08-05-2007 08:39 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
wrote:
Has anyone else noticed this term steadily gaining currency over the
last twelve months ?

It used to be something you weren't allowed to say.

Jamie Goode (not exactly a wine hippy) now regularly uses it on his
blog (see here :
http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/label...al%20wine.html)
and both he and Alice Feiring are apparently writing books on the
subject.

http://www.morethanorganic.com puts quite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.

Even Hugh Johnson seems to have retracted an article in which he
called the idea of natural wine 'bogus' (see, or rather don't see,
here : http://www.vinography.com/archives/2...tic_wine.html).

It now seems to be current as a way of describing certain fairly
extreme organic wines. These may well need a term distinct from
'organic', but surely there has to be a better alternative ?

Any suggestions ?


"Natural Wine" is an actual movement among French winemakers. It refers
to an ethic that minimizes/avoids the use of SO2 to stabilize wine,
favors a non-interventionist approach to winemaking (indigenous yeasts,
little or no use of new oak, etc.) and viticulture (hand harvesting,
selection massale). Organic winemaking is far less restrictive since it
just concerns the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the vineyard.
For a good discussion of it, see Joe Dressner's recent article on his
blog: http://www.joedressner.com

Mark Lipton
--
alt.food.wine FAQ: http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com

Adam Funk[_2_] 08-05-2007 09:23 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
On 2007-05-08, Mark Lipton wrote:

"Natural Wine" is an actual movement among French winemakers. It refers
to an ethic that minimizes/avoids the use of SO2 to stabilize wine,
favors a non-interventionist approach to winemaking (indigenous yeasts,
little or no use of new oak, etc.) and viticulture (hand harvesting,
selection massale).


What's "new oak" and what's considered undesirable about it? (I'm
guessing that it refers to aging in unused barrels --- but what were
the used ones used for?)

--
I put bomb in squirrel's briefcase and who gets blown up? Me!

Mark Lipton[_1_] 08-05-2007 09:58 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
Adam Funk wrote:

What's "new oak" and what's considered undesirable about it? (I'm
guessing that it refers to aging in unused barrels --- but what were
the used ones used for?)


New oak barrels are exactly that: oak barrels which haven't yet been
used to make wine. New oak barrels, especially high toast ones or ones
made from American oak, are notorious for imparting very strong flavors
to the wine that have nothing to do with the grapes themselves. Many
people like those flavors; others do not. If you drink enough wine, you
might conclude (like I have) that new oak is like makeup: used with
restraint and a sense of artistry, it can enhance, but used clumsily it
can be grotesque. YMMV, of course.

Quercophobically yours,
Mark Lipton
--
alt.food.wine FAQ: http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com

cwdjrxyz 08-05-2007 10:04 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
On May 8, 2:39 pm, Mark Lipton wrote:
wrote:
Has anyone else noticed this term steadily gaining currency over the
last twelve months ?


It used to be something you weren't allowed to say.


Jamie Goode (not exactly a wine hippy) now regularly uses it on his
blog (see here :http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/label...al%20wine.html)
and both he and Alice Feiring are apparently writing books on the
subject.


http://www.morethanorganic.computs quite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.


Even Hugh Johnson seems to have retracted an article in which he
called the idea of natural wine 'bogus' (see, or rather don't see,
here :http://www.vinography.com/archives/2...ntic_wine....).


It now seems to be current as a way of describing certain fairly
extreme organic wines. These may well need a term distinct from
'organic', but surely there has to be a better alternative ?


Any suggestions ?


"Natural Wine" is an actual movement among French winemakers. It refers
to an ethic that minimizes/avoids the use of SO2 to stabilize wine,
favors a non-interventionist approach to winemaking (indigenous yeasts,
little or no use of new oak, etc.) and viticulture (hand harvesting,
selection massale). Organic winemaking is far less restrictive since it
just concerns the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the vineyard.
For a good discussion of it, see Joe Dressner's recent article on his
blog:http://www.joedressner.com

Mark Lipton
--
alt.food.wine FAQ: http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com


I could not resist. The ultimate natural wine, is vinegar. There are
some misinformed people that take it as a matter of faith that natural
or organic is superior. This is a theology, and not based on
scientific facts or reason. It usually is useless to argue with people
with such beliefs, just as it usually is useless to argue with someone
about which religion, if any, is the best. More reasonable people try
to do what makes the best product, be it drink or food. This may be to
do nothing in some cases, or if may involve many steps by man in
others. While man has done some things that harm, on the average many
more things have been done right since the scientific era. One need
only mention the greatly increased life span in developed nations that
have enough money for food and other essentials for a healthy life.
There was a time when 50 years was very old.


Dee Dee 09-05-2007 02:57 AM

'Natural wine' ?
 
On May 8, 1:45 pm, wrote:
Has anyone else noticed this term steadily gaining currency over the
last twelve months ?

It used to be something you weren't allowed to say.

Jamie Goode (not exactly a wine hippy) now regularly uses it on his
blog (see here :http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/label...al%20wine.html)
and both he and Alice Feiring are apparently writing books on the
subject.

http://www.morethanorganic.computs quite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.

Even Hugh Johnson seems to have retracted an article in which he
called the idea of natural wine 'bogus' (see, or rather don't see,
here :http://www.vinography.com/archives/2...ntic_wine....).

It now seems to be current as a way of describing certain fairly
extreme organic wines. These may well need a term distinct from
'organic', but surely there has to be a better alternative ?

Any suggestions ?



"Montresor manages its vineyards only by natural means without the
use of chemical pesticides or herbicides."
Dee


Midlife 09-05-2007 07:35 AM

'Natural wine' ?
 
in article , Mike Tommasi at
wrote on 5/8/07 10:31 PM:



I am not a staunch defender of wines from organically grown grapes,
mainly because I find that on the whole this does not make for better
tasting wines. OTOH many of the wines I like are from organically grown
grapes.


Are you familiar with Coturri, from Glen Ellen, in Sonoma, CA? Tony Coturri
insists he adds no SO2 or any other chemical stabilizers or preservatives of
any sort to his wine. The grapes are all certified organic and the wines do
not carry the 'contains sulfites' warning on the labels.

We've been trying his Syrah, Pinot, Zin and a blend called Albaretto for a
while. For the most part they exhibit a huge fruit-forward quality, rather
high alcohol and something of "larger-than-life" profile (the Zin is almost
late harvest in style). He bottles by the barrel (one would presume to
avoid unwanted cross-over of runaway problems between barrels) and the
most-heard comment is that the wines are "Forrest Gump"s - you never know
what you're going to get in each bottle. I generally enjoy them, but
they're lot often what I'd call 'varietally correct'.


[email protected] 09-05-2007 08:05 AM

'Natural wine' ?
 

http://www.morethanorganic.computs quite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.


We're not yet selling a product, although we do intend to start to
start importing later this year. At the moment the site is purely
informational. You can find our position on 'natural wine' as a term
in the section 'Wine terminology' (http://www.morethanorganic.com/wine-
terminology).

Obviously, we don't agree with the 'vinegar' argument, principally
because, as Joe Dressner points out, there is a group of winemakers
within France who describe themselves in this way, as well as cavistes
and restaurants who specialise in 'vin naturel'. They even have a
website (http://www.lesvinsnaturels.org/). We need a way to describe
these wines in English and 'natural wine' seems like the most sensible
translation. I suppose another option would be to adopt the French
term. Dressner himself prefers 'real wine' I think.

The other reason the term is useful, within the EU at least, is the
mess the law is currently in over organic and biodynamic wine.
Winemakers have effectively been forced to find an alternative because
the term 'organic wine' is illegal and the term 'wine made from
organically grown grapes' is not strict enough. There are plenty of
wines made industrially from organically grown grapes.

A bigger problem is agreeing exactly what qualifies as 'natural wine'.
Until that's done, you can't get a system of certfication running. Our
attempt at a definition is here (http://www.morethanorganic.com/
definition-of-natural-wine) but it should be seen as just that, an
attempt. There's another one, fairly similar, on wikipedia (http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_wine).

Incidentally, how did you find morethanorganic ? It's only about a
month old and is still teething really. Nor is it set in stone, so any
feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Oliver Morgan
http://www.morethanorganic.com/


Joe Sallustio 09-05-2007 12:56 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
This thread cross posted to rec.crafts.winemaking; from a winemaking
standpoint I'm not sure I followed the logic of natural wines when the
weather doesn't cooperate with the vineyard. In your definitions it
said natural wines contained no added acids so I'm wondering how they
will pull this off in hot years. Grapes are finicky, at the small
amount of sulfite you are stating this wine may contain the longevity
of the wine might depend on acidity. Lower acid wines may go off on
you quicker than higher acid wines.

I applaud your efforts; I'm big on minimal intervention myself but do
use acids and sulfites when the raw materials call for them. I don't
own my own vineyard. This position on acids seems to limit your
growers to very predictable climates and very predictable vines. I'm
not saying it's impossible, just harder. They will probably be
blending wines of varied acid levels due to ripeness which may work
out very well on some varieties; less well with others. They will be
less apt to pick a whole vineyard at once also, just picking areas at
optimum ripeness. None of that is bad, it's actually great for the
wine. You just need a lot more intervention in the vineyard, that is
all.
I thought this was a biodynamic thread originally, I see it's not.

Joe

On May 9, 3:05 am, wrote:
http://www.morethanorganic.computsquite a good case for the
difference between 'natural' and 'organic' wines, but I can't help
feeling it's just smart way of selling their product.


We're not yet selling a product, although we do intend to start to
start importing later this year. At the moment the site is purely
informational. You can find our position on 'natural wine' as a term
in the section 'Wine terminology' (http://www.morethanorganic.com/wine-
terminology).

Obviously, we don't agree with the 'vinegar' argument, principallcan given my starting point, you are trying to get your grapes right
because, as Joe Dressner points out, there is a group of winemakers
within France who describe themselves in this way, as well as cavistes
and restaurants who specialise in 'vin naturel'. They even have a
website (http://www.lesvinsnaturels.org/). We need a way to describe
these wines in English and 'natural wine' seems like the most sensible
translation. I suppose another option would be to adopt the French
term. Dressner himself prefers 'real wine' I think.

The other reason the term is useful, within the EU at least, is the
mess the law is currently in over organic and biodynamic wine.
Winemakers have effectively been forced to find an alternative because
the term 'organic wine' is illegal and the term 'wine made from
organically grown grapes' is not strict enough. There are plenty of
wines made industrially from organically grown grapes.

A bigger problem is agreeing exactly what qualifies as 'natural wine'.
Until that's done, you can't get a system of certfication running. Our
attempt at a definition is here (http://www.morethanorganic.com/
definition-of-natural-wine) but it should be seen as just that, an
attempt. There's another one, fairly similar, on wikipedia (http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_wine).

Incidentally, how did you find morethanorganic ? It's only about a
month old and is still teething really. Nor is it set in stone, so any
feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Oliver Morganhttp://www.morethanorganic.com/




DaleW 09-05-2007 06:04 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
On May 8, 4:23�pm, Adam Funk wrote:
On 2007-05-08, Mark Lipton wrote:

"Natural Wine" is an actual movement among French winemakers. *It refers
to an ethic that minimizes/avoids the use of SO2 to stabilize wine,
favors a non-interventionist approach to winemaking (indigenous yeasts,
little or no use of new oak, etc.) and viticulture (hand harvesting,
selection massale). *


What's "new oak" and what's considered undesirable about it? *(I'm
guessing that it refers to aging in unused barrels --- but what were
the used ones used for?)

--
I put bomb in squirrel's briefcase and who gets blown up? Me!


As to how you get used oak, tyically in "old days" a producer might
bring in a few new barrels to replace ones that were leaking (or if
production had increased). Typically these barrels would be used as
part of the elevage of the biggest wines in the stable. Or, a producer
might buy used barrels from another producer who typically used more
new oak (like the classified growths in Bordeaux, or most GC
Burgundy, etc).

Another factor in the perception of "new oak" is that heavier toasts
of the barrels tend to increase oak flavors.

Size of barrels in another factor. A 225L barrique has more surface
area proportionally than a big foudre.



Adam Funk[_2_] 09-05-2007 10:46 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 
On 2007-05-08, Mark Lipton wrote:

What's "new oak" and what's considered undesirable about it? (I'm
guessing that it refers to aging in unused barrels --- but what were
the used ones used for?)


New oak barrels are exactly that: oak barrels which haven't yet been
used to make wine. New oak barrels, especially high toast ones or ones
made from American oak, are notorious for imparting very strong flavors
to the wine that have nothing to do with the grapes themselves. Many
people like those flavors; others do not. If you drink enough wine, you
might conclude (like I have) that new oak is like makeup: used with
restraint and a sense of artistry, it can enhance, but used clumsily it
can be grotesque. YMMV, of course.


OK! But that does mean that the winemakers who oppose new oak are
expecting other winemakers to do their dirty work (turning new oak
into old oak) for them.

Mark Lipton[_1_] 10-05-2007 04:18 AM

'Natural wine' ?
 
Adam Funk wrote:

OK! But that does mean that the winemakers who oppose new oak are
expecting other winemakers to do their dirty work (turning new oak
into old oak) for them.


Well, it's hardly regarded as dirty work. Many famous French chateux
will only use a barrel once and then discard it. So, other wineries
less enamored of the flavor of new oak will buy those used barrels for
their own use. Alternatively, a wine maker can fill his new barrel with
water, let it stand for a month or so and then dump the water. That's
supposed to remove a lot of the new oak flavor. In case you're asking
why a winemaker would want to use an oak barrel if they don't like the
flavor of oak, here's the answer: aging wine in oak amounts to a
low-level oxidation, rounding out a lot of the flavors and also imparts
some tannins to the wine to help it age. Thus, many winemakers seek out
"neutral oak" barrels to accomplish this.

Mark Lipton


--
alt.food.wine FAQ: http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com

[email protected] 10-05-2007 03:47 PM

'Natural wine' ?
 

Thanks for your comments Mike, and for taking the time to have a look
at the site.

You are right that there is nothing, in princple, to prevent you from
producing a very natural wine on a large vineyard or in large
quantities. Nor to prevent a very large company from producing some of
its wines in this way. It's a question of method rather than size or
ownership. In practice I think this is unlikely to happen, but that's
a slightly separate issue.

The only part of your post that I would really take issue with is
this :

This is actually not bad and a lot better than the lesvinnaturels.org
site, but unfortunately you will find that most of the winemakers that
regularly meet in France under the "natural" label do not meet these
criteria. And in the absence of a means for independently certifying
that these criteria are met, the whole thing is meaningless.


I think the absence of independent certification makes things
difficult, but not meaningless. You can't simply go to 'natural wine'
fair and assume that all of the wines you find there are naturally
made.

Instead, you have to be clear about what you mean by natural wine and
do everything you can to ensure that the wines you sell as 'natural'
meet your own definition. That means working only with winemakers whom
you know and trust and have seen at work. Of course, it is still
possible for someone to fool you. But that's a risk that you have to
accept.

Until there is achange in the law, either to establish a sensible
definition of organic wine or to make it necessary to label wine with
it's additives and means of production, that's all you can do. But
it's still worth doing.

Thanks again for your interest.

Oliver Morgan

http://www.morethanorganic.com/



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