This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

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ericleehall
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#1 Post by ericleehall » March 17th, 2018, 11:06 am

Many of the wines poured at Brumaire I can describe only as bizarre. There was Ruth Lewandowski’s Feints cuvee, a half white, half red wine from Italian varieties in Mendocino County. There was the sparkling Grenache, from Vin de California, that somehow came out the color and opacity of Goya mango nectar. And the wines made from cold-hardy hybrid grapes like La Crescent and Frontenac Gris, from Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista in Vermont, and the cider-wine amalgamations of Heekin’s protegee Krista Scruggs.

Were these wines good? I found it difficult to evaluate them, as I imagine an art critic might have felt when looking for conventional markers of subject and form in a Jackson Pollack painting. Some I found wonderful and surprising. Some I found undrinkable. But my “undrinkable” — if I found volatile acidity, for example, or excessive brettanomyces — appeared, at Brumaire, to be many people’s “delicious.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 756286.php
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#2 Post by GregT » March 17th, 2018, 11:41 am

"Natty wine"???

That alone makes me gag.

And some wines are good, some not so much. But this convo has been beaten to death.
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#3 Post by Tom DeBiase » March 18th, 2018, 12:44 pm

No dog in this fight but I can tell you that at the 7% Solution tasting in July 2017 the Ruth Lewandowski wines were in my top 5 overall of all the wines being served.
Unusual blends for sure but tasty and very well balanced. Added plus was Evan Lewandowski (owner, winemaker) was a cool dude to talk to.

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#4 Post by etomasi » March 18th, 2018, 1:23 pm

Honestly, I don't know why people hate on fun, interesting wines that drink well in their youth. As long as natural wines are tasty, not expensive, and go with food; I don't see much to hate.
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#5 Post by Markus S » March 18th, 2018, 1:51 pm

etomasi wrote:Honestly, I don't know why people hate on fun, interesting wines that drink well in their youth. As long as natural wines are tasty, not expensive, and go with food; I don't see much to hate.
Exactly. They are simply another extension of what the grape can go if they are not allowed to be doctored. No reason to hate.
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#6 Post by Ian Sutton » March 18th, 2018, 2:05 pm

Also a good thing that boundaries are pushed, though for those 'pushing the envelope', I'm happier when they do it under IGP/IGT etc (or VdT/VdP etc.) rather than under DOC/DOCG/AOP/AOC etc.

If they present additional interesting wines, then I'm content.
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#7 Post by Ken Zinns » March 18th, 2018, 2:48 pm

Markus S wrote:
etomasi wrote:Honestly, I don't know why people hate on fun, interesting wines that drink well in their youth. As long as natural wines are tasty, not expensive, and go with food; I don't see much to hate.
Exactly. They are simply another extension of what the grape can go if they are not allowed to be doctored. No reason to hate.
+1

I attended the Brumaire tasting (I've been to all three of them) and yes, there were number of wines I'd describe as unconventional - I think that's a far better description than "bizarre", as quoted in the article above. I've noted before that it can require a bit of recalibrating one's palate if these are not the types of wines that you're used to tasting. And although I've found it's true that there is certainly a greater tolerance for Brett among many natural wine fans than among wine consumers in general, I know a number of producers of natural wine (as well as producers who are not quite in the natural category but are pretty close to it) who hate Brett, and their wines are very clean. You also have to keep in mind that the Brumaire tasting showcases some of the edgier natural wines out there, in that they have very little or no added SO2 - many natural wines, including some from producers who poured at Brumaire, aren't as low in SO2.
Tom DeBiase wrote:No dog in this fight but I can tell you that at the 7% Solution tasting in July 2017 the Ruth Lewandowski wines were in my top 5 overall of all the wines being served.
Unusual blends for sure but tasty and very well balanced. Added plus was Evan Lewandowski (owner, winemaker) was a cool dude to talk to.
Agree with Tom about Evan Lewandowski's wines, and the one singled out in the article quote from the OP (2017 Feints Cuvée) was actually a highlight for me at Brumaire. Different for sure, but a fun and delicious wine. And talk about different - he makes his wines in Utah, though the fruit is from Mendocino.

Edit: I'd also like to point out that the article from which the quote in the OP was taken was generally supportive of Brumaire and of the natural wine movement, while raising some good questions and leveling some justifiable criticism as well. The full article is linked in the OP and is well worth a read.
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#8 Post by James Sanders » March 18th, 2018, 3:58 pm

Why experiment when there are so many good $70 Pinots available?

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#9 Post by Wes Barton » March 18th, 2018, 4:20 pm

The "wonderful and surprising" is what interests me.
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#10 Post by Otto Forsberg » March 19th, 2018, 2:23 am

James Sanders wrote:Why experiment when there are so many good $70 Pinots available?
Why splurge so much money when you can have stunning Pinots at $20-30?

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#11 Post by ericleehall » March 19th, 2018, 1:26 pm

I mean no offense to anyone here, or anyone there (at the event)... People like what they like, for their own reasons.

But, with the preface that good (non flawed) wine is hard to make, and involves a lot of ancient procedures, that have been refined, but overall have mostly stayed the same (at least for artisan producers), and the best grapes from well loved varietals are expensive and so to intentionally mis-classify those processes as "interventionist" or "doctored", is just plain silly, one one hand, and dishonest on the other. But Hey!, all is fair in marketing right?

I think, and have good reason to think, that this IS clever marketing, to sell flawed wines, either flawed by design (hipster fashion, like baggy jeans) , or flawed for economic reasons (it's cheaper to make flawed wine from cheap unknown grapes)...

Fortunately, I think it's more amusing than annoying (most of the time), and it too, shall pass.

Just my $. 02.
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#12 Post by Matt K » March 19th, 2018, 1:35 pm

I just can't excuse flawed wine in the modern wine world. Even if you're the most hardcore traditionalist or 'natural' winemaker, there's such a wealth of information out there about how not to make flawed wine, it is complete ignorance to repeatedly make flawed wine.

Now, I suppose that does tend to depend a little on personal preference (i.e. Brett, Aldehydes).

I guess the conclusion is... Natural wine can be exceptional, but does not need to be flawed in order to be interesting.
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#13 Post by Mark_Edwards » March 19th, 2018, 6:29 pm

James Sanders wrote:Why experiment when there are so many good $70 Pinots available?
Legitimately can't tell if this is satire or not.

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#14 Post by larry schaffer » March 19th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Markus S wrote:
etomasi wrote:Honestly, I don't know why people hate on fun, interesting wines that drink well in their youth. As long as natural wines are tasty, not expensive, and go with food; I don't see much to hate.
Exactly. They are simply another extension of what the grape can go if they are not allowed to be doctored. No reason to hate.
Perhaps I'm being 'too sensitive' here, but when I read the term 'doctored', it comes across as a 'negative'. And I just don't think it's 'right' to put wines into the 'either/or' camps here . . . at all.

Look, at the end of the day, I'm all for experimenting and pushing boundaries - that's how we all 'grow' in whatever we do. And as Ken and others have pointed out, there are tons of wonderfully made 'natural' wines and have been for a long time - before they were 'cool'.

Many - not all - of these wines, though, are quite 'fragile' and require either constant refrigeration or consuming very very quickly before they become something other than what the winemaker most likely intended. The fact that most either disdain SO2 or just really don't want to use it helps create this situation oftentimes - and again, no hating going on here - just observations.

At the end of the day, my litmus test is whether a wine smells and tastes good to me - regardless of how it is made. I am not giving 'passes' to wines that were made in a 'natural' style and may smell or taste 'off'. No passes whatsoever. I may not say that they are 'bad' wines, but I would not drink them, nor would I 'support' those who are willing to 'overlook' these faults because of the processes made.

And getting back to the original point here - I add commercial yeast so that means that I 'doctor' my wines? I beg to differ - and would assume most others would as well.

Truly curious to keep the conversation going . . .

And Eric, did you go to the tasting?

Cheers.
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#15 Post by ericleehall » March 20th, 2018, 10:37 am

larry schaffer wrote:
Markus S wrote:
etomasi wrote: And getting back to the original point here - I add commercial yeast so that means that I 'doctor' my wines? I beg to differ - and would assume most others would as well.

Truly curious to keep the conversation going . . .

And Eric, did you go to the tasting?

Cheers.
No, but I do try a lot of different wines ITB, and I go out of my way to do so. I've had quite a few of these "natural" wines, and overall I would call them flawed, either by issues related to low/no S02, or way under ripe, or both., or no oak, or very cloudy or oddly colored etc etc.... I've actually liked some of the "Orange" white wines I've tried, and some odd whites, in the same milieu as Beaujolais, (fresh, young, cold) and they've been OK.

I guess in the same way (metaphorically) that the original street hip hop performers were sort of an anti-technology/establishment hipster movement, I think this is like that, and of course you now have those performers well ensorcelled by the establishment, and I suppose that some might even say that was "flawed" music in the same way as I call these prototypical natural wines flawed, to torture that metaphor even further.

Your yeast point is well taken, especially when it's known ITB that most "wild" yeasts, are merely commercial strains hanging about, and now that I think about it perhaps that "meme" (i.e. Wild Yeasts are natural/better) is how we got to this "natural" wine sub-genre....

Either way, I view it as a juvenile reaction to authority, which is the fertile medium hipster movements originate from.

Again IMHO + $.02.
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#16 Post by Karl K » March 21st, 2018, 8:58 pm

Is the naming of the event Brumaire meant to be ironic, or what?
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#17 Post by Rudi Finkler » March 22nd, 2018, 1:11 am

I do think that 'Brumaire' is meant to be ironic, Karl, but to label a 'natural' wine fete in Oakland as a "Brumaire-ian coup" sounds rather far-fetched to me. Makes no real sense, but sounds sophisticated... :-)

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#18 Post by mark rudner » March 22nd, 2018, 4:26 pm

Mark_Edwards wrote:
James Sanders wrote:Why experiment when there are so many good $70 Pinots available?
Legitimately can't tell if this is satire or not.
thank you. i'm hoping it is. i think...

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#19 Post by ericleehall » May 15th, 2018, 10:11 am

This is the best reporting I've ever seen on this subject. An important article, whether you agree or not on the validity of the subject.

"‘Natural wine’ advocates say everything about the modern industry is ethically, ecologically and aesthetically wrong – and have triggered the biggest split in the wine world for a generation. "

I like this part: " “There is no legal definition of natural wine,” Michel Bettane, one of France’s most influential wine critics, told me. “It exists because it proclaims itself so. It is a fantasy of marginal producers.” Robert Parker, perhaps the world’s most powerful wine critic, has called natural wine an “undefined scam”.

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#20 Post by Wes Barton » May 15th, 2018, 12:45 pm

“It exists because it proclaims itself so. It is a fantasy of marginal producers.” Robert Parker, perhaps the world’s most powerful wine critic, has called natural wine an “undefined scam”.
So.....much.....irony.
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#21 Post by R_Gilbane » May 15th, 2018, 1:18 pm

ericleehall wrote:I mean no offense to anyone here, or anyone there (at the event)... People like what they like, for their own reasons.

But, with the preface that good (non flawed) wine is hard to make, and involves a lot of ancient procedures, that have been refined, but overall have mostly stayed the same (at least for artisan producers), and the best grapes from well loved varietals are expensive and so to intentionally mis-classify those processes as "interventionist" or "doctored", is just plain silly, one one hand, and dishonest on the other. But Hey!, all is fair in marketing right?

I think, and have good reason to think, that this IS clever marketing, to sell flawed wines, either flawed by design (hipster fashion, like baggy jeans) , or flawed for economic reasons (it's cheaper to make flawed wine from cheap unknown grapes)...

Fortunately, I think it's more amusing than annoying (most of the time), and it too, shall pass.

Just my $. 02.
Eric, so in summary you think that "natural" wine is essentially just a clever marketing tactic employed by cheap winemakers to make millenial hipsters buy incorrectly/flawed wine produced from obscure varietals? And that isn't supposed to offend anyone on this board or in the business because it's just your 2 cents and you prefaced the insult with "no offense"? Incredible.
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#22 Post by Nathan V. » May 15th, 2018, 2:11 pm

ericleehall wrote:
larry schaffer wrote: And getting back to the original point here - I add commercial yeast so that means that I 'doctor' my wines? I beg to differ - and would assume most others would as well.

Truly curious to keep the conversation going . . .

And Eric, did you go to the tasting?

Cheers.
No, but I do try a lot of different wines ITB, and I go out of my way to do so. I've had quite a few of these "natural" wines, and overall I would call them flawed, either by issues related to low/no S02, or way under ripe, or both., or no oak, or very cloudy or oddly colored etc etc.... I've actually liked some of the "Orange" white wines I've tried, and some odd whites, in the same milieu as Beaujolais, (fresh, young, cold) and they've been OK.
That isn't the only way to drink Beaujolais , in fact, it isn't the way that people who really like and know about Beaujolais treat it.
Your yeast point is well taken, especially when it's known ITB that most "wild" yeasts, are merely commercial strains hanging about, and now that I think about it perhaps that "meme" (i.e. Wild Yeasts are natural/better) is how we got to this "natural" wine sub-genre....
From what I understand, that is not true. In ambient yeast fermentation different populations of yeasts rise and fall at different points during the process and one (or a few) will become dominant as they are the ones that can (hopefully) finish fermentation. This is congruent with how many natural systems work. Some of those yeast strains are fleeting and ephemeral. It is true that if you have a closed environment where you have used inoculated yeast you will find only those strains. It wouldn't surprise me if those strains were also dominant in vineyards with multiple wineries using the fruit and/or contiguous to the vineyard.

On a personal note, I've had my own issues with "natural" wine over the years. Thrilling bottles followed by bad ones, sometimes from the same person. I think it is really tricky to do well and really isn't a great business model for most growers. That being said, it definitely is a very real thing even if it doesn't have a definition that Bettane and Parker can glom on to. It shouldn't be a way to disguise bad wine, but dismissing it out of hand is to really closed minded and reactionary. As someone who makes pinot noir, you ought to try a Pacalet Burgundy sometime.

Also, hipsters wear the opposite of baggy jeans from what I can tell. Ouch.
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#23 Post by ericleehall » May 15th, 2018, 5:24 pm

R_Gilbane wrote:
ericleehall wrote:I mean no offense to anyone here, or anyone there (at the event)... People like what they like, for their own reasons.

But, with the preface that good (non flawed) wine is hard to make, and involves a lot of ancient procedures, that have been refined, but overall have mostly stayed the same (at least for artisan producers), and the best grapes from well loved varietals are expensive and so to intentionally mis-classify those processes as "interventionist" or "doctored", is just plain silly, one one hand, and dishonest on the other. But Hey!, all is fair in marketing right?

I think, and have good reason to think, that this IS clever marketing, to sell flawed wines, either flawed by design (hipster fashion, like baggy jeans) , or flawed for economic reasons (it's cheaper to make flawed wine from cheap unknown grapes)...

Fortunately, I think it's more amusing than annoying (most of the time), and it too, shall pass.

Just my $. 02.
Eric, so in summary you think that "natural" wine is essentially just a clever marketing tactic employed by cheap winemakers to make millenial hipsters buy incorrectly/flawed wine produced from obscure varietals? And that isn't supposed to offend anyone on this board or in the business because it's just your 2 cents and you prefaced the insult with "no offense"? Incredible.
Incredible that I think that is a big part of the "movement", or Incredible that I said it out loud, or incredible that I think by apologizing in advance people won't be offended, or something else?

Perhaps I'm offended by being branded an "interventionist" ?

I do imagine there are a lot of people that actually believe in making "natural" wine, no matter the quality or drink-ability of the end result, but I also think there is a lot lazy hipster fashion winemaking and marketing going on too.
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#24 Post by Ken Zinns » May 15th, 2018, 6:18 pm

ericleehall wrote:I do imagine there are a lot of people that actually believe in making "natural" wine, no matter the quality or drink-ability of the end result, but I also think there is a lot lazy hipster fashion winemaking and marketing going on too.
I've been trying more natural wines over the past few years, and as I've noted before, I've seen an overall improvement in quality. Of course there some seriously flawed (in my view) natural wines and unfortunately there are some proponents (but far from all of them, as the article seems to imply) who choose to ignore those flaws and promote some of those wines. But I feel like an increasing number of proponents - and from what I've found, particularly producers - of natural wines are not giving these flawed wines such an easy pass, which I think is partly why natural wines in general are improving. The flip side is that there are more people trying their hand at making these wines without really understanding what they need to do to make them well. It's not easy, so it's no surprise that it's taking time for some people to figure it out - but then that's true of anyone who's relatively new to making wine. And I'm encouraged by the number of newer producers of natural wines who are getting it right from the start.

There are plenty of people who make wine that's flawed and consumers who enjoy drinking wine that's flawed and/or just plain crappy and which does not fall within the natural wine category. But I suppose it's not as much fun to criticize them.
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#25 Post by Dennis Borczon » May 15th, 2018, 6:23 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
“It exists because it proclaims itself so. It is a fantasy of marginal producers.” Robert Parker, perhaps the world’s most powerful wine critic, has called natural wine an “undefined scam”.
So.....much.....irony.
I think this is a 100 point comment!

You know you must be a geezer when you view some of these experimental wines in the same way i view pre-shredded jeans with stylish holes in them. If you wear the jeans long enough and they develop holes and tears as a result of hard work, that is authentic. They are comfortable and broken in, but not perfect. If you put them there just to look like you have done the same, it is an affectation.

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#26 Post by Evan Pontoriero » May 15th, 2018, 7:17 pm

Dennis Borczon wrote:
Wes Barton wrote:
“It exists because it proclaims itself so. It is a fantasy of marginal producers.” Robert Parker, perhaps the world’s most powerful wine critic, has called natural wine an “undefined scam”.
So.....much.....irony.
I think this is a 100 point comment!

You know you must be a geezer when you view some of these experimental wines in the same way i view pre-shredded jeans with stylish holes in them. If you wear the jeans long enough and they develop holes and tears as a result of hard work, that is authentic. They are comfortable and broken in, but not perfect. If you put them there just to look like you have done the same, it is an affectation.
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#27 Post by Karl K » May 15th, 2018, 7:19 pm

No offense . . .
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#28 Post by R_Gilbane » May 15th, 2018, 7:59 pm

Eric, I’m not sure why you would have any cause to feel as if you’re being unjustly labeled as an “interventionist”. From what I’ve seen, you’ve gone out of your way to attach labels and attack wine making styles and demographics that differ from what you feel comfortable with or understand. It’s sad really.
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#29 Post by James Sanders » May 15th, 2018, 9:16 pm

mark rudner wrote:
Mark_Edwards wrote:
James Sanders wrote:Why experiment when there are so many good $70 Pinots available?
Legitimately can't tell if this is satire or not.
thank you. i'm hoping it is. i think...
Guilty. Eric sells $70 Cali Pinot that he describes with terms that make this natural wine lover shudder--e.g. "cherry cola," "lush," creamy," and "silky smooth." No offense, Eric . . .

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#30 Post by Wes Barton » May 15th, 2018, 11:54 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:The flip side is that there are more people trying their hand at making these wines without really understanding what they need to do to make them well.
On that, the article points out how much work Lapierre and his cohorts put into figuring out how to make consistently good natural wines. Certain writers and other proponents pushed the myth that ignorance is a virtue - while putting up on a pedestal as some sort of proof of this idea winemakers who put a huge amount of effort into making consistently great "natural wines". It's an insult, grotesque, dishonest, and a massive disservice to the world of wine.
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#31 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » May 16th, 2018, 1:02 am

And yet again, wine geeks get offended by that with which they do not agree.

Predictable.
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#32 Post by Jeremy C » May 16th, 2018, 8:05 am

It seems to me that the term “natural” in this context is most certainly a marketing decision, akin to the common use of “organic.” But that’s not to say that some/many of the wines aren’t worth seeking out and trying.
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#33 Post by Ken Zinns » May 16th, 2018, 9:18 am

Jeremy C wrote:It seems to me that the term “natural” in this context is most certainly a marketing decision, akin to the common use of “organic.”
To some extent I think that's true, and if you're making wines in that manner it can make sense to align yourself with the "natural" tag to help differentiate your wines from others. Every wine producer needs to market their wines, why not use that to their advantage if they can? Then again, not everyone who makes wines this way chooses to be considered a producer of natural wines, for various reasons. And, taking advantage of the vagueness of the term, there are others who have called themselves natural winemakers but are most certainly not.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#34 Post by G. Shields » May 16th, 2018, 9:30 am

Jeremy C wrote:It seems to me that the term “natural” in this context is most certainly a marketing decision, akin to the common use of “organic.” But that’s not to say that some/many of the wines aren’t worth seeking out and trying.
Maybe, but let’s add some nuance to the concept of marketing here... for the one-man-show slightly hippy young vigneron in the Loire, it maybe marketing in the sense of the image that he or she projects of how they approach their craft, but other than a simple website and choice of salon there isn’t much else... maybe a FB site..? It’s only really marketing vs. the old-school guy who slathers his vines in chemicals, does strictly no communication and just leverages AOC for his stand at the salon dés vignerons indépendants... but it ain’t marketing like the classed growth Bordeaux with full colour glossy ad in Revue de Vin de France or the Napa estate with deluxe tasting room etc...
For me, this is therefore less ´marketing’ and à bit more ’just who I am’...
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#35 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » May 16th, 2018, 9:50 am

From the article:

"There are easy explanations for this. The high costs of buying land and doing business in California. The preponderance of Napa Valley’s opulent wine style. A Bay Area culture that privileges technology. As Josh Eubank, owner of the importer Percy Selections and a co-organizer of Brumaire, puts it: Young winemakers here “are under immense pressure to bring a ‘consistent’ product to market, not so much because this is what they want to drink, but rather because their alternative is bankruptcy. That’s certainly not a recipe for experimental winemaking.”

One of the issues here is the extent to which a wine should be "consistent" (allegedly boring) compared to "exciting" (a euphemism for unpredictable/inconsistent).

In any event, as I've said before many times, I find the phrase "natural wine" to be incredibly vague and rather dishonest. Wine is NOT a purely natural product--the vines don't plant or prune themselves, the grapes don't voluntarily commit suicide by jumping off the vine nor do they decide how they are going to be handled in the winery, etc., etc., etc. One can debate which techniques make for better (or worse) wine depending on the circumstances, but the concept of "natural wine" is a tremendous amount of marketing hooey from my perspective.

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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#36 Post by Ken Zinns » May 16th, 2018, 10:06 am

Bruce Leiser_owitz wrote:In any event, as I've said before many times, I find the phrase "natural wine" to be incredibly vague and rather dishonest. Wine is NOT a purely natural product--the vines don't plant or prune themselves, the grapes don't voluntarily commit suicide by jumping off the vine nor do they decide how they are going to be handled in the winery, etc., etc., etc. One can debate which techniques make for better (or worse) wine depending on the circumstances, but the concept of "natural wine" is a tremendous amount of marketing hooey from my perspective.
I've never liked the term either, for much the same reasons as you point out, but at this point it's the recognized term for this type of wine. Unless enough proponents and producers come up with an alternate term that sticks (some have tried, but nothing has caught on), "natural" wine is how it will continue to be categorized. And I don't sense much pressure from either inside or outside the natural wine community to change the term, though it's clear that not everyone is comfortable with it.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#37 Post by Nathan V. » May 16th, 2018, 10:18 am

Ken Zinns wrote:
Bruce Leiser_owitz wrote:In any event, as I've said before many times, I find the phrase "natural wine" to be incredibly vague and rather dishonest. Wine is NOT a purely natural product--the vines don't plant or prune themselves, the grapes don't voluntarily commit suicide by jumping off the vine nor do they decide how they are going to be handled in the winery, etc., etc., etc. One can debate which techniques make for better (or worse) wine depending on the circumstances, but the concept of "natural wine" is a tremendous amount of marketing hooey from my perspective.
I've never liked the term either, for much the same reasons as you point out, but at this point it's the recognized term for this type of wine. Unless enough proponents and producers come up with an alternate term that sticks (some have tried, but nothing has caught on), "natural" wine is how it will continue to be categorized. And I don't sense much pressure from either inside or outside the natural wine community to change the term, though it's clear that not everyone is comfortable with it.
Joe Dressner tried to re-label as Real Wine but that got about as much traction as you'd expect.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#38 Post by Jay Miller » May 16th, 2018, 10:21 am

Nathan V. wrote:
Ken Zinns wrote:
Bruce Leiser_owitz wrote:In any event, as I've said before many times, I find the phrase "natural wine" to be incredibly vague and rather dishonest. Wine is NOT a purely natural product--the vines don't plant or prune themselves, the grapes don't voluntarily commit suicide by jumping off the vine nor do they decide how they are going to be handled in the winery, etc., etc., etc. One can debate which techniques make for better (or worse) wine depending on the circumstances, but the concept of "natural wine" is a tremendous amount of marketing hooey from my perspective.
I've never liked the term either, for much the same reasons as you point out, but at this point it's the recognized term for this type of wine. Unless enough proponents and producers come up with an alternate term that sticks (some have tried, but nothing has caught on), "natural" wine is how it will continue to be categorized. And I don't sense much pressure from either inside or outside the natural wine community to change the term, though it's clear that not everyone is comfortable with it.
Joe Dressner tried to re-label as Real Wine but that got about as much traction as you'd expect.
There was also one bottling that he described as supernatural wine. I don't recall which it was?
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#39 Post by larry schaffer » May 16th, 2018, 10:36 am

Not to sound like a 'broken record' here, but I think one of the challenges here is that there are plenty of 'shades of gray' here that make it difficult to make 'absolute' statements.

I understand where Eric is coming from - if you are a 'minimalist' but do not adhere to 'strict' natural leanings (perhaps you filter, for instance) because you don't want to 'deal with' the possibility of bacterial or yeast blooms in bottle), what do you 'call' yourself? And regardless of what it is, you usually get 'lumped in' with 'commercial wineries that use chemicals and 'tricks' to make wine 'more consistent'. I don't think that's true at all - hence the 'shades of gray' comment above.

There are many paths to making wine - and to me, the key is being pragmatic, not dogmatic. If you've tried and dig these 'natural' wines, that's great for you. If you don't mind how 'variable' they can be, that's great as well. Let's just say that we can agree to disagree and move on.

Cheers.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#40 Post by tcavallo » May 16th, 2018, 10:47 am

For better or for worse, Natural has become a useful shorthand for low-sulfur, low-intervention wines. If you tell a general consumer "We add x sulfur at y times, rack z times, correct/don't correct acid/tannin/color, fine/don't fine with bentonite, isinglass, blahblah chemicals, filter..." they probably stop paying attention pretty quickly.

We put a general description of our processes on our labels, and put more details in our release notes, including everything that was added to the wine and every step of the process it went through. Ridge has been doing something similar forever. I say just make the information available in whatever way you want, and consumers who want to educate themselves before purchasing can do so easily. If you have nothing to hide, then there's no issue.

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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#41 Post by bob poirier » May 16th, 2018, 10:57 am

Markus S wrote:
etomasi wrote:Honestly, I don't know why people hate on fun, interesting wines that drink well in their youth. As long as natural wines are tasty, not expensive, and go with food; I don't see much to hate.
Exactly. They are simply another extension of what the grape can go if they are not allowed to be doctored. No reason to hate.
For the same reason people hate on high octane, full throttle wines, because they don't like them, this is a wine board and it's been a slow day.

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#42 Post by Jeremy C » May 16th, 2018, 11:55 am

While I agree there has been some disdain shared here wrt the style of wines being discussed, there is also the argument that the term “natural” is simply inaccurate and problematic. Those are separate discussions.
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#43 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » May 16th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Jeremy C wrote:While I agree there has been some disdain shared here wrt the style of wines being discussed, there is also the argument that the term “natural” is simply inaccurate and problematic. Those are separate discussions.
And it’s just a repeat of the same, tired debate that happens every 12-18 months, when someone writes a natural wine piece. Nothing meaningful has changed since the last time.

As for natural wine being “marketing”, let me know the next (first) time a natural wine producer takes out a full page article in Wine Spectator.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#44 Post by Wes Barton » May 16th, 2018, 3:20 pm

G. Shields wrote:
Jeremy C wrote:It seems to me that the term “natural” in this context is most certainly a marketing decision, akin to the common use of “organic.” But that’s not to say that some/many of the wines aren’t worth seeking out and trying.
Maybe, but let’s add some nuance to the concept of marketing here... for the one-man-show slightly hippy young vigneron in the Loire, it maybe marketing in the sense of the image that he or she projects of how they approach their craft, but other than a simple website and choice of salon there isn’t much else... maybe a FB site..? It’s only really marketing vs. the old-school guy who slathers his vines in chemicals, does strictly no communication and just leverages AOC for his stand at the salon dés vignerons indépendants... but it ain’t marketing like the classed growth Bordeaux with full colour glossy ad in Revue de Vin de France or the Napa estate with deluxe tasting room etc...
For me, this is therefore less ´marketing’ and à bit more ’just who I am’...
On top of that, if the wine is going to be a little cloudy or drop a lot of sediment, that can freak out mainstream expectations. A warning to expect cloudiness would likely hurt sales, but also prevent a slew of returns from freaked out purchasers who didn't even bother to try the wine. Does that sound like marketing? Not in the pejorative sense.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#45 Post by Wes Barton » May 16th, 2018, 4:03 pm

larry schaffer wrote:Not to sound like a 'broken record' here, but I think one of the challenges here is that there are plenty of 'shades of gray' here that make it difficult to make 'absolute' statements.

I understand where Eric is coming from - if you are a 'minimalist' but do not adhere to 'strict' natural leanings (perhaps you filter, for instance) because you don't want to 'deal with' the possibility of bacterial or yeast blooms in bottle), what do you 'call' yourself? And regardless of what it is, you usually get 'lumped in' with 'commercial wineries that use chemicals and 'tricks' to make wine 'more consistent'. I don't think that's true at all - hence the 'shades of gray' comment above.

There are many paths to making wine - and to me, the key is being pragmatic, not dogmatic. If you've tried and dig these 'natural' wines, that's great for you. If you don't mind how 'variable' they can be, that's great as well. Let's just say that we can agree to disagree and move on.

Cheers.
Jaime Goode used the term "authentic wine". Now he's throwing around the word "true". To me, those wouldn't quite be the same as what many are calling "natural", but would encompass the best of those, plus the many who go as far in that direction as possible without making flawed wines.

Lost in this debate about the fringe is that healthier soil yields more complex wine. (Healthier does not equate to overly nutrient rich.) Sulfite dulls wines, a low-sulfite wine will be more aromatically expressive, lighter on the palate, more open. Fining and filtering can strip complexity. Residual pesticides and fungicides making it into the must can inhibit a lot of yeasts, preventing them from adding complexity to a wine.

There's a lot to strive for. Peaks to climb, without falling off a cliff. There's a lot of exciting stuff going on right now. Often it's long resume assistant winemakers branching off with a small label, taking their ideas to fruition, while keeping their real jobs making "safe" wines.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#46 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » May 16th, 2018, 4:57 pm

People are doing great work across the w8nemaking spectrum.

It’s a real shame that threads arguing about articles drown out the discussions about actual wines.
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#47 Post by larry schaffer » May 16th, 2018, 5:22 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
larry schaffer wrote:Not to sound like a 'broken record' here, but I think one of the challenges here is that there are plenty of 'shades of gray' here that make it difficult to make 'absolute' statements.

I understand where Eric is coming from - if you are a 'minimalist' but do not adhere to 'strict' natural leanings (perhaps you filter, for instance) because you don't want to 'deal with' the possibility of bacterial or yeast blooms in bottle), what do you 'call' yourself? And regardless of what it is, you usually get 'lumped in' with 'commercial wineries that use chemicals and 'tricks' to make wine 'more consistent'. I don't think that's true at all - hence the 'shades of gray' comment above.

There are many paths to making wine - and to me, the key is being pragmatic, not dogmatic. If you've tried and dig these 'natural' wines, that's great for you. If you don't mind how 'variable' they can be, that's great as well. Let's just say that we can agree to disagree and move on.

Cheers.
There's a lot to strive for. Peaks to climb, without falling off a cliff. There's a lot of exciting stuff going on right now. Often it's long resume assistant winemakers branching off with a small label, taking their ideas to fruition, while keeping their real jobs making "safe" wines.
Care to define 'safe' wine? [wow.gif] neener [stirthepothal.gif] [swearing.gif] deadhorse
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#48 Post by Jeremy C » May 16th, 2018, 5:45 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
Jeremy C wrote:While I agree there has been some disdain shared here wrt the style of wines being discussed, there is also the argument that the term “natural” is simply inaccurate and problematic. Those are separate discussions.
And it’s just a repeat of the same, tired debate that happens every 12-18 months, when someone writes a natural wine piece. Nothing meaningful has changed since the last time.

As for natural wine being “marketing”, let me know the next (first) time a natural wine producer takes out a full page article in Wine Spectator.
I’m more than allowed to share my opinion on an issue.

And yes, it is marketing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; in fact, I believe any successful business owner should market their product(s).
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#49 Post by Anton D » May 16th, 2018, 5:46 pm

Interesting topic!

I went to check the criteria for being a 'natural wine.'

The following basic criteria are generally accepted by most natural wine producers and organizations:

Organically or biodynamically grown grapes, with or without certification.

Dry-farmed, low-yielding vineyards.

Hand-picked.

No added sugars, no foreign yeasts, no foreign bacteria.

No adjustments for acidity.

No additives for color, mouth-feel, minerality, etc.

No external flavor additives, including those derived from new oak barrels, staves, chips, or liquid extract.

Minimal or no fining or filtration.

No heavy manipulation, such as micro-oxygenation, reverse osmosis, spinning cone, cryoextraction.

Minimal or no added sulphites aka sulfites. (I think it should be none if they wanna really be pure about it.)

_

I see no problem with any of that, I suppose it's when a winemaker claims some sort of position of superiority over his/her fellow winemakers by calling himself/herself a maker of 'natural wine.'

So, the argument makes sense when taking about one way or another being inherently 'better.'

Regarding biodynamics - is putting a chopped off bull's head in a vineyard a 'natural' thing, or would that be adding something that wasn't there to begin with? I'd consider it a manipulation, even if I think it doesn't really do anything. [cheers.gif]

I would consider adding ground horn silica 'to improve photosynthesis' a manipulation, as well. same with "horn manure."

I don't think 'natural wines' have an automatic position of superiority, so I can see why a 'normal' winemaker might be put off. For me, it's an "I don't care' thing.
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This just cracks me up, re "Natural Wine"

#50 Post by Wes Barton » May 16th, 2018, 5:49 pm

larry schaffer wrote:Care to define 'safe' wine? [wow.gif] neener [stirthepothal.gif] [swearing.gif] deadhorse
Just being straight-forward, conventional. Basically, doing what others are doing, staying inside the box, being happy making the same wines every year without putting much effort into learning. Being happy making good wines with fruit that could make better wine.
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