Natural wine’s popularity is ever increasing with quirky stockists selling more and more of the juice, and bottles popping up in pubs and restaurants all over. So what is natural wine?
The jury remains well and truly out on a clear definition of what constitutes natural wine (this is funny because a lot of natural wine appears cloudy, OK?). Despite wine makers, stockists, distributors and countries worldwide still operating without legal definition, interest and demand increases so let’s take a look at what a vin naturel contains and what you should look out for when choosing your nattie vinos.
A good place to start is by looking at the difference between organic and natural wines.
Where the grapes are grown and farmed organically, without chemical fertiliser, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Basically, none of the bad stuff is applied to the vines or it’s fruit.
Takes all principles of organic wine but continues the theme in to production, fermentation and bottling where nothing is added or removed during the process.
A couple of sticking points that make this category tricky:
- Some winemakers believe adding a dash of sulphites at bottling is OK in natural wines, especially when it means saving a large portion of crops after a bad harvest, for example.
- Others believe using fish and eggs when fining wine still makes the wine natural as the products used are natural themselves.
So you can see why people have trouble defining natural wine but what you can stick to is the mantra of minimal intervention and when checking bottles, ensure there are no additives or preservatives. You can also ask and ye shall receive sound advice from smart wine people in stores.
What do natural wines taste like?
Tastes can vary (like, a lot obviously) but a broad description of a natural sparkling for example might be a sour, light tasting beer or flavourful kombucha. Overall the wines often taste “clean” and chemical free, without taking away from flavours, textures or depths of the wines. Mmm.
Which natural wines should I try?
There are plenty of options when it comes to natural/organic wine but here are some examples I’ve recently tried that you might like!
1.Trutta Rosé, Central VIC, 2018
Organic, minimal intervention rosé and something different from the pale, provincial style rosé you might generally choose. 50/50 Shiraz and Cabernet, it’s a little tropical with just the right amount of acidity. Purchase on Valentine’s Day from the good folk at P&V wine in Newtown. Paired with steak because anything goes!
These guys have a couple of great options on the go at the minute including Floppy Giggle Day, a 2017 semillon and sav blend. Relatively Red, their 2017 Shiraz & Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend is another fav. Their real winner for me though was the Loubadie Doo rosé which I’m patiently waiting to appear on their website. If you’re wondering where Andrew the winemaker takes his inspiration from, it’s all about his wife and little girl and where they’re all based, down in Mount Gambier. Order direct from the website or pick up in a specialist store.
Mixing it up with a white, this guy’s a blend of Pinot Gris, Viognier, Riesling and Chardonnay with all the fruity goodness coming from Heathcote. Again, smashable level is high. I ordered this and a few others from DRNKS who will deliver the same day in the right areas if you order by 12pm.
How can I learn more about natural wine?
For more on Natural Wine Best Practices, popular European natural wine types and info on if this wine is actually better for you or not, check out Wine Folly’s natural wine review here.
If you’re looking for wider reading, Isabelle Legeron’s Natural Wine: an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally is a brilliant guide to the history, background and necessity of the natural wine world.