Wine of course, but what does that mean?
That's a subject that's open for debate, glorification, vilification - and good on vacation.
In many ways the Natural Wine Movement (sounds fancy) might best be explained very simply:
Of the Earth and No More
Or at least that's how we often simplistically think about it. Of course it can't be that simple given our modern agricultural world but it's a good way to approach an understanding what a small group of vineyard owners and winemakers are attempting to do out there.
There aren't any official definitions of Natural Wine but there are general guidelines that those who grow, "make" and consume it loosely adhere summed up below.
Often referred to as "Natty" wines they
- Must be grown Organically or Biodynamically (think Organic on Steroids as David says!). Certification isn't necessarily a must.
- Native yeasts, preferably non-inoculated, are used.
- Usually hand-picked
- Manipulation of the grapes and wine is non-existent or minimal with no chemical additives.
- No fining or filtering of the juice and no or very low levels of Sulfites added for preservation.
- There's more of course but those are the basics.
The resulting wines can range from truly funky "Orange Wine" (extended skin contact of white wine grapes) to more subtle reds or rosés that have a lightly cloudy appearance due to the lack of fining or filtering.
They can be quite "clean" on the palate or weird and wild with notes of barnyard to them.
A true gamut of styles is out there although it can be hard to find examples to try.
After being relatively skeptical of "Natty" up until five or so years ago we have found more and more interesting, as well as less flawed, wines each and every year. We certainly aren't a natural wine shop but we seem to have three dozen or more on hand at all times and that number could well grow more over time.
All in all, a fun time will be had!