NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

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NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#1 Post by TomHill » November 19th, 2019, 9:14 am

Interesting, if somewhat dogmatic, article on natural wine:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019 ... onsumption
by RachelMonroe in the NewYorker.
Not too terribly informative. Loaded w/ all the mumbo/jumbo that turns a lot of regular wine drinkers off to natural wines,
notwithstanding the case that some of them are just downright bad and undrinkable. Some of the worst wines I've ever
tried are natural wines...as are some of the most idiosyncratic and interesting wines. I think a lot of the natural winemakers
are backing off from their touting the glories of natural wine...precisely because of articles like this one.
Tom

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#2 Post by GregT » November 19th, 2019, 10:00 am

And who exactly is Rachel Monroe who we are supposed to pay attention to because she's written an article that's a decade late? Doesn't appear to know much about wine but someone agreed to pay her to write about it.

She did however, point out the absurdity of some of the twits. The wine editor for Bon Appetit deciding to write only about "natural" wine and pairing it with Lays BBQ potato chips. Yep. Those chips are about as natural as you can get. Nice to see people live by their principles.
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#3 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » November 19th, 2019, 10:10 am

The more people yammer about natural wine, the less I want to drink it.
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#4 Post by Robert Dentice » November 19th, 2019, 11:37 am

It is actually a decent, balanced article. So many bad superficial and factually incorrect articles have been written about natural wine that I surprised by this.

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#5 Post by Anton D » November 19th, 2019, 11:44 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
November 19th, 2019, 10:10 am
The more people yammer about natural wine, the less I want to drink it.
Agree.
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#6 Post by Alex Frank » November 19th, 2019, 12:34 pm

As the target demographic for the cult around natural wine (millennial city dweller, a bit of disposable income, from a punk/DIY background), every time someone mentions it I find it harder and harder not to roll my eyes. Almost spit out my lunch when the guy in the article talked about "microdosing" wine. Give me a break.

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#7 Post by Dennis Atick » December 1st, 2019, 4:27 am

LOL

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#8 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » December 1st, 2019, 7:39 am

Robert Dentice wrote:
November 19th, 2019, 11:37 am
It is actually a decent, balanced article. So many bad superficial and factually incorrect articles have been written about natural wine that I surprised by this.

I agree. Journalistic in its virtues--balanced and accounting for the various viewpoints--but they are virtues.

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#9 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2019, 9:13 am

I thought this was a very good article. It is very honest about the way in which "natural wines" are a way of placing yourself culturally and sociologically and might not have anything to do with the wine making method itself. I thought this was particularly funny:

"wine was for lawyer dads who bragged about their supple California Cabernets"

The "lawyer dad" group dominates Wineberserkers (I plead guilty, although I'm not a lawyer and prefer aged French to supple California, but still).

There are numerous hyper-biodynamic wines, e.g. in Burgundy, that are not classified as "natural" because they are venerated by the "lawyer dad" demographic and thus don't confer any punk cred at all. This is all just a generational thing, as usual capitalism is stimulating a desire for rebellion and then transforming that desire into a commodity for sale. Unfortunately the kids have to drink crappy wine as the price of their rebellion, but at least they're not taking heroin (hopefully).

The implications that alcohol in natural wines will somehow have less effect on your body than the alcohol your dad drinks were very funny.

I thought the most touching part of the article was the description of the harvest at Clos Saron, where she wanders through a beautiful field under the California sunlight while engaging in sensory communion with each individual bunch of grapes. Who wouldn't want to get out from behind their computer screen and have that experience? Unfortunately it's not an experience you can put in a bottle and sell in a natural wine bar. As she underlines by reminiscing about it while sitting in an urban wine bar getting sold a crappy "farty" wine by a waiter. So much of wine marketing is selling a fantasy of an alternative life. The "natural wine" marketing fad is because the fantasies connected to Bordeaux and Burgundy got old and unconvincing.
Last edited by Marcu$ Stanley on December 1st, 2019, 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#10 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2019, 9:17 am

To me the ultimate experience in "natural wine" is aged wine. Aging is a completely natural process, very poorly understood by science. Corporations cannot manipulate it and people have no technical control over it outside of storing the wine at the proper temperature. No method of winemaking is ever going to be as "natural" as the aging process. But precisely because there is no human involved you can't tie it to a lifestyle or coolness factor.

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#11 Post by David Glasser » December 1st, 2019, 1:20 pm

Marcus, I’m gonna take your (very perceptive and accurate) comments completely out of context to say that claiming natural wine is at least better than heroin isn’t much of an endorsement.

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Perhaps...PerhapsNot...

#12 Post by TomHill » December 1st, 2019, 1:56 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 9:17 am
To me the ultimate experience in "natural wine" is aged wine. Aging is a completely natural process, very poorly understood by science. Corporations cannot manipulate it and people have no technical control over it outside of storing the wine at the proper temperature. No method of winemaking is ever going to be as "natural" as the aging process. But precisely because there is no human involved you can't tie it to a lifestyle or coolness factor.
Perhaps, Marcus...perhaps not. It's simply a chemical reaction process that can be manipulated by the winemaker.
PaulDraper recounts going to a tasting at HankRubin's PotLuck restaurant in Berkeley (probably nobody remembers Hank/PotLuck...if you do, raise your hand) of Louis Martini
wines from the '40's-'50's. He stated the wines were as youthful & fresh as if they'd been bottled only ysterday. The reason? In that era, LouieMartini would
pasteurize his wines so they could sit on the shelf in a hot Lodi wine shop and not go to hell in a hand-basket. Of course, the wines didn't show the complexity of
well-aged Barbera/Cab/Zin would show.
Tom

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Re: Perhaps...PerhapsNot...

#13 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2019, 2:13 pm

TomHill wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 1:56 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 9:17 am
To me the ultimate experience in "natural wine" is aged wine. Aging is a completely natural process, very poorly understood by science. Corporations cannot manipulate it and people have no technical control over it outside of storing the wine at the proper temperature. No method of winemaking is ever going to be as "natural" as the aging process. But precisely because there is no human involved you can't tie it to a lifestyle or coolness factor.
Perhaps, Marcus...perhaps not. It's simply a chemical reaction process that can be manipulated by the winemaker.
PaulDraper recounts going to a tasting at HankRubin's PotLuck restaurant in Berkeley (probably nobody remembers Hank/PotLuck...if you do, raise your hand) of Louis Martini
wines from the '40's-'50's. He stated the wines were as youthful & fresh as if they'd been bottled only ysterday. The reason? In that era, LouieMartini would
pasteurize his wines so they could sit on the shelf in a hot Lodi wine shop and not go to hell in a hand-basket. Of course, the wines didn't show the complexity of
well-aged Barbera/Cab/Zin would show.
Tom
Come on, that's totally different. Of course there are ways to *stop* aging. Shelf-stable supermarket wines don't age, neither does Coca-Cola. Pasteurization, freezing, stripping the wine of life in other ways, plenty of ways to do it. But stopping aging is not aging. The point is, if you allow aging -- if you create a wine that is age-able and intended to age and you let it age -- there is no way to control the aging process as it occurs. Aging is pure nature (biochemistry) at work.

But aging is useless for lifestyle marketing of wine. It takes a long time, is unpredictable, the process of sticking it in a temperature-controlled space for a decade plus is quite boring and in no way fashionable, etc. Plus mass production and marketing of properly aged wines is not economic (not even top wine retailers generally age their own wines any more). So no matter how natural it is you won't hear much about it. Wines marketed as "natural wines" are generally not intended to be aged, since it's marketing aimed at a young urban crowd who don't have facilities to age wine or the desire to.

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Hmmm...

#14 Post by TomHill » December 1st, 2019, 2:28 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 2:13 pm
TomHill wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 1:56 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 9:17 am
To me the ultimate experience in "natural wine" is aged wine. Aging is a completely natural process, very poorly understood by science. Corporations cannot manipulate it and people have no technical control over it outside of storing the wine at the proper temperature. No method of winemaking is ever going to be as "natural" as the aging process. But precisely because there is no human involved you can't tie it to a lifestyle or coolness factor.
Perhaps, Marcus...perhaps not. It's simply a chemical reaction process that can be manipulated by the winemaker.
PaulDraper recounts going to a tasting at HankRubin's PotLuck restaurant in Berkeley (probably nobody remembers Hank/PotLuck...if you do, raise your hand) of Louis Martini
wines from the '40's-'50's. He stated the wines were as youthful & fresh as if they'd been bottled only ysterday. The reason? In that era, LouieMartini would
pasteurize his wines so they could sit on the shelf in a hot Lodi wine shop and not go to hell in a hand-basket. Of course, the wines didn't show the complexity of
well-aged Barbera/Cab/Zin would show.
Tom
Come on, that's totally different. Of course there are ways to *stop* aging. Shelf-stable supermarket wines don't age, neither does Coca-Cola. Pasteurization, freezing, stripping the wine of life in other ways, plenty of ways to do it. But stopping aging is not aging. The point is, if you allow aging -- if you create a wine that is age-able and intended to age and you let it age -- there is no way to control the aging process as it occurs. Aging is pure nature (biochemistry) at work.

But aging is useless for lifestyle marketing of wine. It takes a long time, is unpredictable, the process of sticking it in a temperature-controlled space for a decade plus is quite boring and in no way fashionable, etc. Plus mass production and marketing of properly aged wines is not economic (not even top wine retailers generally age their own wines any more). So no matter how natural it is you won't hear much about it. Wines marketed as "natural wines" are generally not intended to be aged, since it's marketing aimed at a young urban crowd who don't have facilities to age wine or the desire to.
Hmmmm....guess I don't understand, Marcus. Do you not consider fining of red wines a manipulation to modify the aging of a red wine?
And I would argue that many "natural" wines are intended for aging. Elisabetta Foradori Teroldego for one, though she does not market
it as "natural" for the young/hip/urban crowd.
Tom

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#15 Post by John Glas » December 1st, 2019, 2:50 pm

And who exactly is Rachel Monroe who we are supposed to pay attention to because she's written an article that's a decade late? Doesn't appear to know much about wine but someone agreed to pay her to write about it.
Usually someone at the paper that says they like wine and the job is theirs. Not true of all papers but far too many bad wine writers. My favorite is when they are too lazy to do their own picks and ask wine shops their favorite wines.

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Re: Hmmm...

#16 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2019, 3:04 pm

TomHill wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 2:28 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 2:13 pm
TomHill wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 1:56 pm


Perhaps, Marcus...perhaps not. It's simply a chemical reaction process that can be manipulated by the winemaker.
PaulDraper recounts going to a tasting at HankRubin's PotLuck restaurant in Berkeley (probably nobody remembers Hank/PotLuck...if you do, raise your hand) of Louis Martini
wines from the '40's-'50's. He stated the wines were as youthful & fresh as if they'd been bottled only ysterday. The reason? In that era, LouieMartini would
pasteurize his wines so they could sit on the shelf in a hot Lodi wine shop and not go to hell in a hand-basket. Of course, the wines didn't show the complexity of
well-aged Barbera/Cab/Zin would show.
Tom
Come on, that's totally different. Of course there are ways to *stop* aging. Shelf-stable supermarket wines don't age, neither does Coca-Cola. Pasteurization, freezing, stripping the wine of life in other ways, plenty of ways to do it. But stopping aging is not aging. The point is, if you allow aging -- if you create a wine that is age-able and intended to age and you let it age -- there is no way to control the aging process as it occurs. Aging is pure nature (biochemistry) at work.

But aging is useless for lifestyle marketing of wine. It takes a long time, is unpredictable, the process of sticking it in a temperature-controlled space for a decade plus is quite boring and in no way fashionable, etc. Plus mass production and marketing of properly aged wines is not economic (not even top wine retailers generally age their own wines any more). So no matter how natural it is you won't hear much about it. Wines marketed as "natural wines" are generally not intended to be aged, since it's marketing aimed at a young urban crowd who don't have facilities to age wine or the desire to.
Hmmmm....guess I don't understand, Marcus. Do you not consider fining of red wines a manipulation to modify the aging of a red wine?
And I would argue that many "natural" wines are intended for aging. Elisabetta Foradori Teroldego for one, though she does not market
it as "natural" for the young/hip/urban crowd.
Tom
OK, I was probably being too absolute in my statement. Obviously a whole bunch of winemaking processes are done with an eye toward eventual aging, starting with extraction itself (since tannins and other skin components make a wine more age-able). What I am saying is that once the wine is bottled the process of bottle aging is inherently a product of nature and natural processes and cannot be modified once the wine is in bottle. Further, the winemaking process is very far from being fully determinative of exactly how the wine will age, the winemaker cannot fully control aging by what s/he does in winemaking (unless they pasteurize or take some other measure to make the wine not age at all).

And yes there are many wines that are fully "natural" in their manufacture that are intended to age, e.g. DRC, but what I am saying is that the bottle aging process is not at all part of "natural wine" as a marketing campaign or strategy, even though I am arguing it is perhaps the most natural (in the sense of controlled by natural processes) part of winemaking.

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OK.....

#17 Post by TomHill » December 1st, 2019, 3:32 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 3:04 pm
TomHill wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 2:28 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 2:13 pm


Come on, that's totally different. Of course there are ways to *stop* aging. Shelf-stable supermarket wines don't age, neither does Coca-Cola. Pasteurization, freezing, stripping the wine of life in other ways, plenty of ways to do it. But stopping aging is not aging. The point is, if you allow aging -- if you create a wine that is age-able and intended to age and you let it age -- there is no way to control the aging process as it occurs. Aging is pure nature (biochemistry) at work.

But aging is useless for lifestyle marketing of wine. It takes a long time, is unpredictable, the process of sticking it in a temperature-controlled space for a decade plus is quite boring and in no way fashionable, etc. Plus mass production and marketing of properly aged wines is not economic (not even top wine retailers generally age their own wines any more). So no matter how natural it is you won't hear much about it. Wines marketed as "natural wines" are generally not intended to be aged, since it's marketing aimed at a young urban crowd who don't have facilities to age wine or the desire to.
Hmmmm....guess I don't understand, Marcus. Do you not consider fining of red wines a manipulation to modify the aging of a red wine?
And I would argue that many "natural" wines are intended for aging. Elisabetta Foradori Teroldego for one, though she does not market
it as "natural" for the young/hip/urban crowd.
Tom
OK, I was probably being too absolute in my statement. Obviously a whole bunch of winemaking processes are done with an eye toward eventual aging, starting with extraction itself (since tannins and other skin components make a wine more age-able). What I am saying is that once the wine is bottled the process of bottle aging is inherently a product of nature and natural processes and cannot be modified once the wine is in bottle. Further, the winemaking process is very far from being fully determinative of exactly how the wine will age, the winemaker cannot fully control aging by what s/he does in winemaking (unless they pasteurize or take some other measure to make the wine not age at all).

And yes there are many wines that are fully "natural" in their manufacture that are intended to age, e.g. DRC, but what I am saying is that the bottle aging process is not at all part of "natural wine" as a marketing campaign or strategy, even though I am arguing it is perhaps the most natural (in the sense of controlled by natural processes) part of winemaking.
OK, Marcus..I think we're on the same page here. Of course, the aging process can be modified by temperatures.
Tom

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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#18 Post by larry schaffer » December 1st, 2019, 3:58 pm

And please don't forget that there is tremendous variability in the aging process as well. Some of this is due to wines being bottled unfined and unfiltered, and some of this is due to the variability of the closure used.

Winemakers can have a say in how the process takes place in bottle based on whether their winemaking is reductive or oxidative in nature, the type of closure used, and how much if any sulfur dioxide is used at bottling.

As with everything else with regards to Wine, it's just not that simple.
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#19 Post by Wes Barton » December 1st, 2019, 4:03 pm

Therein lies the appeal of "natural wine" to many. New-ish to wine. Conventional wines they tried weren't exciting to them. Mass-produced garbage. Wines made to age, which don't show their best on release. Wines stylistically following those, being heavy, dull, oaky, then perhaps trying to overcome that stuff by being picked later. So, they find a hipster niche of vibrant, expressive wines that are exciting and fun to drink right off the shelf.

Of course, that niche includes flawed wines that can drive away the majority of the folks who'd be drawn to lighter low-intervention wines, so it's a polarizing, but well-marketed category. Much subjectivity as to what is or isn't a "natural wine".
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#20 Post by J a y H a c k » December 1st, 2019, 4:57 pm

Now I know why everyone has been asking me about natural wine during the holiday. I wish people would stop writing about it so I could enjoy dinner without having to deal with questions about burying a bull's horn full of shit in the middle of the vineyard.
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#21 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » December 2nd, 2019, 6:53 am

J a y H a c k wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 4:57 pm
Now I know why everyone has been asking me about natural wine during the holiday. I wish people would stop writing about it so I could enjoy dinner without having to deal with questions about burying a bull's horn full of shit in the middle of the vineyard.
This is biodynamic wine, not natural wine. Maybe you should read the article.

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Hmmmm...

#22 Post by TomHill » December 2nd, 2019, 8:48 am

Jonathan Loesberg wrote:
December 2nd, 2019, 6:53 am
J a y H a c k wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 4:57 pm
Now I know why everyone has been asking me about natural wine during the holiday. I wish people would stop writing about it so I could enjoy dinner without having to deal with questions about burying a bull's horn full of shit in the middle of the vineyard.
This is biodynamic wine, not natural wine. Maybe you should read the article.
Hmmm....I thought that most adherents of "natural" wine grew Biodynamic?
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Re: NewYorker: RachelMonroe on NaturalWines

#23 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » December 2nd, 2019, 9:12 am

Biodynamics is a system of agriculture, based on Steiner. While it is coincident with organic practices in the vineyard, it includes a lot of other practices that have nothing to do with that. As a matter of elevage, it allows use of oak and a whole lot of other practices that natural wine would not go near. It may be that a lot of winemakers who make natural wine also practice biodynamie (although I haven't seen statistics), but, with reference to Jay's post, not burying a goat horn with manure in it in the vineyard according to the phase of the moon would not disallow a wine from being natural. On the other hand, I understand that, for instance, certain Bordeaux winemakers have taken up biodynamie, but the wines are certainly not natural.

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Re: Hmmmm...

#24 Post by Otto Forsberg » December 2nd, 2019, 11:10 pm

TomHill wrote:
December 2nd, 2019, 8:48 am
Jonathan Loesberg wrote:
December 2nd, 2019, 6:53 am
J a y H a c k wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 4:57 pm
Now I know why everyone has been asking me about natural wine during the holiday. I wish people would stop writing about it so I could enjoy dinner without having to deal with questions about burying a bull's horn full of shit in the middle of the vineyard.
This is biodynamic wine, not natural wine. Maybe you should read the article.
Hmmm....I thought that most adherents of "natural" wine grew Biodynamic?
Tom
There are lots of biodynamic producers who are natural, but it's still not a big proportion of the whole, since naturalistas are quite a small movement in comparison to biodynamy.

Also, many natural producers aren't adherents of biodynamy, since making good natural wines requires more or less scientific attitude to the winemaking and hygiene - in order to do as little as possible, you really have to know what you are doing. I think that most of those natural producers who make cloudy, funky and skunky wines (the stuff most people only associate with the term "natural wine") might be those who are most likely going to be biodynamic as well.

However, I've encountered many producers (both natural and conventional) who are certified organic and say that they farm according to the biodynamic principles but don't have Demeter certification. When asked why, they tend to say something along the lines that they don't stick to the voodoo mumbo jumbo part because they don't believe any of it.

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