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Community natural wine  the bordeaux wine snob is dead | Upload Lifestyle

Natural Wine: The Bordeaux Wine Snob Is Dead

by: Annette Lavrijsen
natural wine  the bordeaux wine snob is dead | Upload

The age of the Bordeaux drinking wine snob is dead; the wines du moment are unfiltered, natural, untamed, and a reflection of their terroir. Read on for an introduction to natural wine. If you are into wine, you’ve probably heard about ‘vins nature’ or ‘natural wine,’ the unplugged version of wine as we know it. 

Natural Wine: The Revival

Whereas conventional wine may use up to 60 different additives (!) to improve the aroma, taste, and drinkability, natural wines use none. It is a wine made from grapes and only grapes.

Some people consider natural wine as to how wine was once meant to be. Before the industrial revolution, all wines were natural wines. About 30 years ago, French winemaker Marcel Lapierre took over the family Domaine from his father in the Beaujolais and noticed a big difference in the traditional methods of winemaking within his family compared to what students were taught at the academy. Inspired by Jules Chauvet – a viticultural prophet who in the 1950s, upon the rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, first spoke out for ‘natural wine,’ harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais – Lapierre spearheaded the so-called ‘Gang of Four,’ a group of four winemakers that called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: old vines in a healthy vineyard, not using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late and by hand, rigorously sorting to keep only the healthiest grapes, adding none or minimal doses of sulfur dioxide, and no adding of sugars or acids at all.

Recommended: Biodiversity Is Decreasing, And Climate Change Is Worldwide

The methods Lapierre and his gang used were as revolutionary as they were traditional. What began with just this handful of French winemakers is now a global movement, having spread to Italy, Spain, and, more recently, South Africa, New Zealand, the United States, and even Japan – the latter being one of the biggest markets for natural wine. When local consumption of French natural wine peaked in 2000, Japan was reportedly consuming 75 percent of the total volume produced. If it weren’t for the Japanese demand, many small French wineries would not have survived. In Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods, natural wine bars were mushrooming – followed by their hipster counterparts in Europe and the USA.


                                                      What is Natural Wine? - Some Tips with Keri Levens

The Bordeaux Wine Snob Is Dead: Honest And Unspoiled

Driving forces behind the European success were avant-garde restaurant Noma in Copenhagen and former Hibiscus in London. Their sommeliers were amongst the first to give natural wines a leading role in their funky wine-and-food pairings. Elaborating on his choice not to include the grand lady of the wine world on their menu, Pontus Elofsson, Noma’s former wine director, said: ‘Bordeaux is probably the biggest chemical factory in Europe. They use lots of chemicals in the vineyards and the cellars, and to do that is to move away from reflecting terroir in an honest, unspoiled way.’

Recommended: Food Future: Serving Lab-Meat In Restaurants Reality?

Natural wine is now making waves with a new generation of, mostly young, drinkers who are not prejudiced and can’t be bothered with the big traditional names; they instead drink a lovely, unpretentious wine and that, opposed to any mass-produced bottle, has been produced in harmony with nature – chemical-free and with a flavor imparted by the natural environment in which it is made, including soil, climate, and topography—wines in which the purity of the grape is preserved.

Natural Wines: No Interventions

This all may sound simple, yet is anything but. Wine is considered 'natural' when it is produced with minimal intervention – nothing added, nothing removed. No chemicals or artificial fertilizers are used on the vines; the grapes are handpicked, there is no manipulation of flavor, no filtering, and no color agents used in the winemaking process. Natural wine extremists believe you should add absolutely nothing at all, yet more ‘liberal’ winemakers believe a tiny bit of sulfite is sometimes needed to make the wine more drinkable; this makes their wines, strictly speaking, not natural. Confusing, isn’t it?

The stipulations needed to be certified as ‘organic,’ natural, say that no chemicals can be used to grow the grapes. Still, chemical and technological manipulations are allowed during the winemaking process. Biodynamic winemakers take it even a step further, incorporating lunar cycles, astrological influences, and ideas about a vineyard as an ecosystem. The grapes are grown following the farming principles of Rudolf Steiner, after which the winemaker may still decide to manipulate the fermentation.

2 hands holding blue grapes
Image by: Maja Petric

This means that both organic and biodynamic wine can be produced naturally, but don’t have to be. A warning is in place here: today, a lot of producers are using the organic, natural, or biodynamic stamp as a quality stamp, yet there are a lot of shitty organic and biodynamic wines. The label ‘organic’ or realistic for a supermarket wine in Europe simply means that a few pesticides have not been used, but the wine may still be (and is often) produced commercially and on a large scale.

Natural: Passionate Winemakers

The absence of official certification and rules for natural wines means that the makers need to rely on their gut feeling, knowledge of the land, and years of dedication. Whoever wants to control the outcome fully, better choose a different job. In her book, Natural Wine: an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally, Isabelle Legeron, former sommelier at Hibiscus, writes: ‘Natural wine is a continuum, like ripples on a pond. At the epicenter of these ripples are growers who produce wines naturally – nothing added and nothing removed. As you move away from this center, the additions and manipulations begin, making the wine less and less natural the further out you go. Eventually, the ripples disappear entirely, blending into the waters of the rest of the pond. At this point, the term ‘natural wine’ no longer applies. You have moved into the realm of the conventional.’

Recommended: Food Gardens Turn German Cities Into Green Organic Producers

Let’s drink Natural Wine

Don’t let yourself be put off by the cloudiness of an unfiltered wine. According to insiders, it’s these murky movements at the bottom that illustrate each bottle of natural wine is a living and breathing thing. Neither expects one of those full-bodied, fruity wines that carry the promise of a hangover. The absence of sulfites drastically diminishes your chances of a headache in the morning, and the taste is nothing like conventional wine. Most natural wines have an earthy flavor, are more yeasty than fruity, and have a high acidity, which you may like or not. This earthiness pairs well with simple tastes and pure ingredients such as fish and grilled or fermented vegetables. Look for a local wine bar or restaurant serving natural wines and ask the sommelier to advise and surprise you.

One thing is for sure: natural wines are as natural as it gets, and a tasty and earth-friendly choice for anyone who is up for something funky.

Cover photo by: Nacho Dominguez

Before you go!

Recommended: Hydrogen Powered Gin: Sustainable Gin Could Become Reality

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage.'

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Natural Wine: The Bordeaux Wine Snob Is Dead

The age of the Bordeaux drinking wine snob is dead; the wines du moment are unfiltered, natural, untamed, and a reflection of their terroir. Read on for an introduction to natural wine. If you are into wine, you’ve probably heard about ‘vins nature’ or ‘natural wine,’ the unplugged version of wine as we know it.  Natural Wine: The Revival Whereas conventional wine may use up to 60 different additives (!) to improve the aroma, taste, and drinkability, natural wines use none. It is a wine made from grapes and only grapes. Some people consider natural wine as to how wine was once meant to be. Before the industrial revolution, all wines were natural wines. About 30 years ago, French winemaker Marcel Lapierre took over the family Domaine from his father in the Beaujolais and noticed a big difference in the traditional methods of winemaking within his family compared to what students were taught at the academy. Inspired by Jules Chauvet – a viticultural prophet who in the 1950s, upon the rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, first spoke out for ‘natural wine,’ harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais – Lapierre spearheaded the so-called ‘Gang of Four,’ a group of four winemakers that called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: old vines in a healthy vineyard, not using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late and by hand, rigorously sorting to keep only the healthiest grapes, adding none or minimal doses of sulfur dioxide, and no adding of sugars or acids at all. Recommended: Biodiversity Is Decreasing, And Climate Change Is Worldwide The methods Lapierre and his gang used were as revolutionary as they were traditional. What began with just this handful of French winemakers is now a global movement, having spread to Italy, Spain, and, more recently, South Africa, New Zealand, the United States, and even Japan – the latter being one of the biggest markets for natural wine. When local consumption of French natural wine peaked in 2000, Japan was reportedly consuming 75 percent of the total volume produced. If it weren’t for the Japanese demand, many small French wineries would not have survived. In Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods, natural wine bars were mushrooming – followed by their hipster counterparts in Europe and the USA. {youtube}                                                       What is Natural Wine? - Some Tips with Keri Levens The Bordeaux Wine Snob Is Dead: Honest And Unspoiled Driving forces behind the European success were avant-garde restaurant Noma in Copenhagen and former Hibiscus in London. Their sommeliers were amongst the first to give natural wines a leading role in their funky wine-and-food pairings. Elaborating on his choice not to include the grand lady of the wine world on their menu, Pontus Elofsson, Noma’s former wine director, said: ‘Bordeaux is probably the biggest chemical factory in Europe. They use lots of chemicals in the vineyards and the cellars, and to do that is to move away from reflecting terroir in an honest, unspoiled way.’ Recommended:  Food Future: Serving Lab-Meat In Restaurants Reality? Natural wine is now making waves with a new generation of, mostly young, drinkers who are not prejudiced and can’t be bothered with the big traditional names; they instead drink a lovely, unpretentious wine and that, opposed to any mass-produced bottle, has been produced in harmony with nature – chemical-free and with a flavor imparted by the natural environment in which it is made, including soil, climate, and topography—wines in which the purity of the grape is preserved. Natural Wines: No Interventions This all may sound simple, yet is anything but. Wine is considered 'natural' when it is produced with minimal intervention – nothing added, nothing removed. No chemicals or artificial fertilizers are used on the vines; the grapes are handpicked, there is no manipulation of flavor, no filtering, and no color agents used in the winemaking process. Natural wine extremists believe you should add absolutely nothing at all, yet more ‘liberal’ winemakers believe a tiny bit of sulfite is sometimes needed to make the wine more drinkable; this makes their wines, strictly speaking, not natural. Confusing, isn’t it? The stipulations needed to be certified as ‘organic,’ natural, say that no chemicals can be used to grow the grapes. Still, chemical and technological manipulations are allowed during the winemaking process. Biodynamic winemakers take it even a step further, incorporating lunar cycles, astrological influences, and ideas about a vineyard as an ecosystem. The grapes are grown following the farming principles of Rudolf Steiner, after which the winemaker may still decide to manipulate the fermentation. Image by: Maja Petric This means that both organic and biodynamic wine can be produced naturally, but don’t have to be. A warning is in place here: today, a lot of producers are using the organic, natural, or biodynamic stamp as a quality stamp, yet there are a lot of shitty organic and biodynamic wines. The label ‘organic’ or realistic for a supermarket wine in Europe simply means that a few pesticides have not been used, but the wine may still be (and is often) produced commercially and on a large scale. Natural: Passionate Winemakers The absence of official certification and rules for natural wines means that the makers need to rely on their gut feeling, knowledge of the land, and years of dedication. Whoever wants to control the outcome fully, better choose a different job. In her book,  Natural Wine: an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally, Isabelle Legeron, former sommelier at Hibiscus, writes: ‘Natural wine is a continuum, like ripples on a pond. At the epicenter of these ripples are growers who produce wines naturally – nothing added and nothing removed. As you move away from this center, the additions and manipulations begin, making the wine less and less natural the further out you go. Eventually, the ripples disappear entirely, blending into the waters of the rest of the pond. At this point, the term ‘natural wine’ no longer applies. You have moved into the realm of the conventional.’ Recommended:  Food Gardens Turn German Cities Into Green Organic Producers Let’s drink Natural Wine Don’t let yourself be put off by the cloudiness of an unfiltered wine. According to insiders, it’s these murky movements at the bottom that illustrate each bottle of natural wine is a living and breathing thing. Neither expects one of those full-bodied, fruity wines that carry the promise of a hangover. The absence of sulfites drastically diminishes your chances of a headache in the morning, and the taste is nothing like conventional wine. Most natural wines have an earthy flavor, are more yeasty than fruity, and have a high acidity, which you may like or not. This earthiness pairs well with simple tastes and pure ingredients such as fish and grilled or fermented vegetables. Look for a local wine bar or restaurant serving natural wines and ask the sommelier to advise and surprise you. One thing is for sure: natural wines are as natural as it gets, and a tasty and earth-friendly choice for anyone who is up for something funky. Cover photo by: Nacho Dominguez Before you go! Recommended:  Hydrogen Powered Gin: Sustainable Gin Could Become Reality Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about wine? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
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