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An honest conversation about natural wine

April 01, 2022 Tags: 0 comments
Good wine, good food and good company are like the three musketeers or the ugly, the good and the bad, they come together. At least this is what my over 20 year long experience in the wine industry tells me.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a late lunch with a couple of good friends, they do not work in the wine industry, but they love wine as much as I do.
During the lunch, while drinking, eating, laughing and reminiscing of the too many wines drunk together, one of them mentioned that he was fed up with paying crazy price for natural wines only to be disappointed when opening the bottle. He said that of all natural wines he bought and drunk over the last few years, he only enjoyed one. Demoralising.

He then asked me why. I started by explaining that producing natural wines is not simple, I wrote this post in 2018, before natural wines was a trend, and unfortunately, it is still very true. Too many people are buying natural wines independently of their quality, based on their being “natural”, thinking that all the others are not and are some sort of God’s wines. As of today, there isn’t yet an universally accepted definition of natural wines.

Then a few days later, the word “mousy” started to appear on tweets from wine experts reviewing natural wines. The word itself was new to me, so I had to search and according to a definition I found online “Mousiness is caused by a number of different lactic acid bacteria (LAB), dekkera and brettanomyces yeast can also produce the compounds. It renders the wine undrinkable with a finish of soiled mouse cage”. I did not know the word but had experienced the “finish” several times. Despite the trend and the amount of natural wines being produced, the know how, the expertise and experience accumulated over the last few years, whether we like it or not, wine is a natural product and mousiness cannot be prevented without the addition of sulphites.

In the last couple of years, I haven’t tasted a natural wine that was presented to me as such and we are not looking for one, I may have as a part of bigger tasting without being aware, but I always believed that a good wine is a good wine independently and the wine is made in the vineyard, not in the winery, it is made with healthy, juicy, ripe grapes. This is the reason I decided, when I founded in 2003, to work with small wineries, for their respect for the environment. I learned this lesson by watching my grandad working in his vineyard.

But whether you believe in natural wines or not, the wine industry is moving toward a more sustainable and natural approach and if natural wine is the current trend, once the trend fades out and it will, the right wine making process will be something in between that will take into account its impact on the environment whilst ensuring that wine drinkers do not experience “mousiness”. Until then…
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