Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

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Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#1 Post by Nate Simon » July 29th, 2020, 6:31 am

Somewhat beating a dead horse here (or wines that smell like one), but...
https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifest ... tural-wine

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#2 Post by Marlon F » July 29th, 2020, 8:30 am

interesting.... but it does touches the fact that it is a trend. I tried some good ones - Fred Cossard - and met some producers who are radical about the production. In terms of taste, I do prefer wines with little intervention... but I kind of drink everything :)
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#3 Post by William Kelley » July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am

For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#4 Post by Brandon R » July 29th, 2020, 8:45 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am
For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
YES! While certainly not limited to natural wines (I've heard of this when it comes to many food-related areas), this misconception that natural wines somehow put one on an ethical high horse because of their lack of ANYTHING not "natural" really frustrates me.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#5 Post by c fu » July 29th, 2020, 8:47 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am
For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
any of the well known natural producers using chemicals? that's the anti-thesis of natural wine.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#6 Post by Marlon F » July 29th, 2020, 9:20 am

c fu wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:47 am
William Kelley wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am
For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
any of the well known natural producers using chemicals? that's the anti-thesis of natural wine.
agree.. all the producers I have met, specially in Jura and Burgundy, farm biodynamically.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#7 Post by William Kelley » July 29th, 2020, 9:30 am

Brandon R wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:45 am
William Kelley wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am
For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
YES! While certainly not limited to natural wines (I've heard of this when it comes to many food-related areas), this misconception that natural wines somehow put one on an ethical high horse because of their lack of ANYTHING not "natural" really frustrates me.
It makes sense when one remembers that the natural wine movement began as a winemaking movement (emerging out of a context where over-processed wines with too much sulfur were one people's radar, but the excessive use of agrochemicals hardly were), not as a viticultural / environmentalist movement; those are elements that entered the equation later.

In fact, the original use of the term "natural wine" was in the 19th-century, in contradistinction to "adulterated wine", i.e. wines made from raisins, fruit concentrates and other less benign things. Such concoctions proliferated, especially in the immediate aftermath of phylloxera, when there was a real shortage of genuine vinfera wine. I suspect that Chauvet had this earlier usage in mind when he first used the term "natural wine".
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#8 Post by C Wagner » July 29th, 2020, 6:20 pm

As a millennial (barely) and also a wine “enthusiast” (for lack of a better term), I can’t tell you how often I have to discuss this topic with my less informed millennial cohort.

The way I often describe it is as follows:

Wine that isn’t classified as “natural” can easily be organic/biodynamic/without additives.

Wine that claims to be “natural” can occasionally not be organic/biodynamic/etc.

“Natural” wine seems to often have a common thread of a variety of wine faults that winemakers not classified as “natural” often try to avoid. This seems to give many “natural” wines a somewhat similar flavor profile. (Now, I know that a fair number of the high quality “natural” producers somewhat avoid this, but I’m more referring to those wines my non-wine enthusiast millennial cohort are consuming. Not those high end bottles many of you are drinking.)

Also, not that I have any data to back this up, but a part of me wonders if some restaurants are turning to “natural” wine as a way to increase their wine list profit as many tend to be less expensive and more limited in supply. I would think that you could mark them up a bit more without worry that the customer is going to have previously purchased the bottle at retail or seen it on another list for a lower price.

Am I off base here?
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#9 Post by Marc Hauser » July 29th, 2020, 6:27 pm

And I clicked on this thread thinking that the makers of Natty Light came out with a canned wine.....
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#10 Post by A.Gillette » July 29th, 2020, 6:48 pm

Who are we to argue with Vogue UK on vinous matters? I thought the most interesting point was the one about low alcohol levels. There are quite a few natural wines that I enjoy drinking in the summer because of their fruity, light, bouncy, low-alcohol nature. I’m even more likely to open a kabinett where the producer stopped the fermentation with a dose of sulfur. Both work for me. I suppose that there are almost as many flawed natural wines as there are flawed conventional wines, although the most prevalent flaws differ in each category. There’s something about natural wine that tends to get everyone’s hackles up. I’ve never quite understood it. I suppose some of its cheerleaders can be a bit dogmatic, and even ridiculous at times, but so are some of the people who wax poetic about burgundy. There are some really wonderful non-interventionist, low-to-no sulfur wines made without innoculated yeast, and where the vineyards are worked without pesticides. I’m sure it’s harder to avoid bacterial spoilage with those wines but lots of people do it. What’s really remarkable to me is that while natural wines might still be seen as on the fringe, many of the practices that from part of natural wine have been incorporated in otherwise conventional winemaking practices such that they are now mainstream. Walk around any major winemaking region and ask about biodiversity, cover crop, organic treatments. And ask about roundup and chemical pesticides. I think the wines are here to stay. And if you don’t like them, there is still no one that will force you to drink them.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#11 Post by Josh Grossman » July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm

For me, (a millennial), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
Last edited by Josh Grossman on July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#12 Post by C Wagner » July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm
For me, (a millennial ), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
Exactly this.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#13 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » July 29th, 2020, 9:34 pm

The UK focus of this article might be important. I've always wondered if natural wine might find a more enthusiastic consumer base in the UK, where there is already a cultural interest in funky alcoholic beverages because of the cider industry. I went to college in Bristol and, aside from discovering wine at Averys, spent much of the rest of my time drinking what we call "real cider" which, to my understanding, is a fairly close analogue to natural wine in terms of crafting philosophy.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#14 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 4:00 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm
For me, (a millennial), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
Lactobacillus is a natural wine feature? [scratch.gif]

I'd say more than 99% of the world's red wines and a lion's share of white wines go through MLF. Lactobacillus definitely isn't a natural wine feature by any means.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#15 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 4:45 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:00 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm
For me, (a millennial), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
Lactobacillus is a natural wine feature? [scratch.gif]

I'd say more than 99% of the world's red wines and a lion's share of white wines go through MLF. Lactobacillus definitely isn't a natural wine feature by any means.
That is Oenococcus oeni you are thinking of, not Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus . Gives a completely different taste: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ful ... /fsn3.1010

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#16 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 5:08 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:00 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm
For me, (a millennial), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
Lactobacillus is a natural wine feature? [scratch.gif]

I'd say more than 99% of the world's red wines and a lion's share of white wines go through MLF. Lactobacillus definitely isn't a natural wine feature by any means.
Which gives me a better definition yet. Natty wine is wine made with bacteria, that that produces compounds that were previously considered a fault or caused spoilage (i.e. not O. oeni): https://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/industry ... y/bacteria
There is a growing list of grape, must and wine associated bacteria that can play an important role in the perceived quality of finished wine. As winemaking styles are migrating away from sterile and controlled techniques towards a more non-interventionist and “natural” fermentation, more bacteria are becoming sporadically problematic. Careful observation and environmental management of these fermentation is necessary in order to prevent unwanted attributes arising. Understanding the ecology of these bacteria is a necessary prerequisite in delineating the beneficial, benign, unwanted or catastrophic growth of winery associated bacteria.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#17 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 5:31 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:45 am
That is Oenococcus oeni you are thinking of, not Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus . Gives a completely different taste: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ful ... /fsn3.1010
Correct me if I'm wrong, since I haven't studied much MLF, but if the wine's fermentation and malolactic fermentation are spontaneous, isn't the MLF going to be performed a plethora of LAB, not just Oenococcus?

Of course most if not all wines where the winemaker employs inoculation go through the MLF with Oenococcus, but I suppose the process is different with spontaneous fermentation (of which even many commercial wineries employ, at least in Europe).

I guess some producers can use minimal amounts of SO2 to stun most the microbes excluding oenococcus and saccharomyces, but there are still tons of producers who add sulfites only upon bottling, not before.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#18 Post by Jay Miller » July 30th, 2020, 6:25 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:05 pm
For me, (a millennial), it seems natty wine's distinguishing features are Lactobacilli (like sour beer) and Brettanomyces bacteria and less about farming. There are plenty of biodynamic and S02 free wines that I don't consider natty.
I'm starting to think that we can usefully distinguish between natural wines and natty wines. That way I can easily leave the latter to the rodent lovers out there and enjoy the former.
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#19 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 6:33 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:31 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:45 am
That is Oenococcus oeni you are thinking of, not Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus . Gives a completely different taste: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ful ... /fsn3.1010
Correct me if I'm wrong, since I haven't studied much MLF, but if the wine's fermentation and malolactic fermentation are spontaneous, isn't the MLF going to be performed a plethora of LAB, not just Oenococcus?

Of course most if not all wines where the winemaker employs inoculation go through the MLF with Oenococcus, but I suppose the process is different with spontaneous fermentation (of which even many commercial wineries employ, at least in Europe).

I guess some producers can use minimal amounts of SO2 to stun most the microbes excluding oenococcus and saccharomyces, but there are still tons of producers who add sulfites only upon bottling, not before.
It's all personal preference. I personally like a bit of Brett that seems to add saddle leather but not so much it adds barnyard. If you like sour beer, you will probably like sour wine. A bit is nice, but for example, 2017 Enderle & Moll Basis was too sour for me that I considered it a fault (I'm not convinced there wasn't some Gluconacetobacter in there). I think some of this is backlash against Parkerized wines that some hipsters conflate all acid as good--even acetic acid. I personally am happy if vintners are knowledgeable enough to know how to control microbiology to develop flavors they want. It seems to me most natty wine producers lost control and are willy-nilly about their microbiology.
Last edited by Josh Grossman on July 30th, 2020, 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#20 Post by Sean S y d n e y » July 30th, 2020, 6:37 am

Winemakers that use the principles of sustainability, best agricultural practices, and non-intervention in the cellar to make a more expressive and more ethical wine: yes.

Winemakers that use the cover of "natural" to make mediocre or faulted wine with lazy or unrefined viticultural and winemaking techniques: no.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#21 Post by Greg K » July 30th, 2020, 6:46 am

To me, a large part of the natural wine movement has become an aesthetic rather than anything about the wine itself, so people who drink natural wine gravitate to producers/importers/retailers who are part of a certain set. I had a discussion with an acquaintance and asked him how he would define natural wine, and his response that, to him, it was "minimal intervention, natural yeasts, organic (or mostly organic) vineyard work, no use of micro-oxygenation and similar criteria". By that criteria, nearly all the wine I drink is natural wine, but he refused to believe me.
The other part of the aesthetic is a "punk rock" feel of drinking natural wine, which is why I think certain high end restaurants that have exclusively natural wine lists serve wine in poor quality glasses.
And, of course, cost is an issue. I think there are people who get into natural wine because even at the high end it's still a lot cheaper than high end non-natural wine.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#22 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 6:52 am

Not this:

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#23 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 7:05 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 6:33 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:31 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:45 am
That is Oenococcus oeni you are thinking of, not Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus . Gives a completely different taste: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ful ... /fsn3.1010
Correct me if I'm wrong, since I haven't studied much MLF, but if the wine's fermentation and malolactic fermentation are spontaneous, isn't the MLF going to be performed a plethora of LAB, not just Oenococcus?

Of course most if not all wines where the winemaker employs inoculation go through the MLF with Oenococcus, but I suppose the process is different with spontaneous fermentation (of which even many commercial wineries employ, at least in Europe).

I guess some producers can use minimal amounts of SO2 to stun most the microbes excluding oenococcus and saccharomyces, but there are still tons of producers who add sulfites only upon bottling, not before.
It's all personal preference. I personally like a bit of Brett that seems to add saddle leather but not so much it adds barnyard. If you like sour beer, you will probably like sour wine. A bit is nice, but for example, 2017 Enderle & Moll Basis was too sour for me that I considered it a fault (I'm not convinced there wasn't some Gluconacetobacter in there). I think some of this is backlash against Parkerized wines that some hipsters conflate all acid as good--even acetic acid. I personally am happy if vintners are knowledgeable enough to know how to control microbiology to develop flavors they want. It seems to me most natty wine producers lost control and are willy-nilly about their microbiology.
I see don't understand how your point on personal preference pertains to my question and comment about the technical nature of MLF.

And what to you mean by "sour"? Too high acidity? What is "sour wine"? Sour ales are a genre of their own, but I haven't heard of sour wines.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#24 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 7:18 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:05 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 6:33 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 5:31 am


Correct me if I'm wrong, since I haven't studied much MLF, but if the wine's fermentation and malolactic fermentation are spontaneous, isn't the MLF going to be performed a plethora of LAB, not just Oenococcus?

Of course most if not all wines where the winemaker employs inoculation go through the MLF with Oenococcus, but I suppose the process is different with spontaneous fermentation (of which even many commercial wineries employ, at least in Europe).

I guess some producers can use minimal amounts of SO2 to stun most the microbes excluding oenococcus and saccharomyces, but there are still tons of producers who add sulfites only upon bottling, not before.
It's all personal preference. I personally like a bit of Brett that seems to add saddle leather but not so much it adds barnyard. If you like sour beer, you will probably like sour wine. A bit is nice, but for example, 2017 Enderle & Moll Basis was too sour for me that I considered it a fault (I'm not convinced there wasn't some Gluconacetobacter in there). I think some of this is backlash against Parkerized wines that some hipsters conflate all acid as good--even acetic acid. I personally am happy if vintners are knowledgeable enough to know how to control microbiology to develop flavors they want. It seems to me most natty wine producers lost control and are willy-nilly about their microbiology.
I see don't understand how your point on personal preference pertains to my question and comment about the technical nature of MLF.

And what to you mean by "sour"? Too high acidity? What is "sour wine"? Sour ales are a genre of their own, but I haven't heard of sour wines.
Drink what you like. Sourdough bread is Lactobacillus. Sour beer is Lactobacillus. That strain adds the same flavor to wine.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#25 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 7:29 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:18 am
Drink what you like. Sourdough bread is Lactobacillus. Sour beer is Lactobacillus. That strain adds the same flavor to wine.
I still don't understand what this has to do with my question on MLF. I haven't said a thing about my preference.

And are you talking about all Lactobacilli? Or which strain of a which Lactobacillus species?

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#26 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 7:32 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:29 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:18 am
Drink what you like. Sourdough bread is Lactobacillus. Sour beer is Lactobacillus. That strain adds the same flavor to wine.
I still don't understand what this has to do with my question on MLF. I haven't said a thing about my preference.

And are you talking about all Lactobacilli? Or which strain of a which Lactobacillus species?
I've read enough of your posts to know your preferences. It's fine to be a hipster Otto. Look at the links I shared:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ful ... /fsn3.1010

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#27 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 7:52 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:32 am
I've read enough of your posts to know your preferences. It's fine to be a hipster Otto. Look at the links I shared.
Can you please tone down your hostility, behave like a grown-up and not resort to ad hominems that have no relevance to my questions?

I asked a question about how big of an impact different species of lactobacillus have in MLF, since they are pretty omnipresent in grapes and I can imagine they must contribute quite a bit to natural MLFermentations. You did not respond to this, only posted a link to article showing what kind of metabolic byproducts lactobacilli can create.

You also commented something about "sour wines" which really doesn't say anything to me. I asked what you mean by them, but you didn't answer me, just commetned something cryptic about sour dough and sour ales and then started to be smart-ass.

Are my questions very difficult to answer, have I offended you somehow or why are you acting like this?

And I still don't see how my preferences have anything to do with the subject and I even have no idea what my taste is from your perspective.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#28 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 7:57 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:52 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:32 am
I've read enough of your posts to know your preferences. It's fine to be a hipster Otto. Look at the links I shared.
Can you please tone down your hostility, behave like a grown-up and not resort to ad hominems that have no relevance to my questions?

I asked a question about how big of an impact different species of lactobacillus have in MLF, since they are pretty omnipresent in grapes and I can imagine they must contribute quite a bit to natural MLFermentations. You did not respond to this, only posted a link to article showing what kind of metabolic byproducts lactobacilli can create.

You also commented something about "sour wines" which really doesn't say anything to me. I asked what you mean by them, but you didn't answer me, just commetned something cryptic about sour dough and sour ales and then started to be smart-ass.

Are my questions very difficult to answer, have I offended you somehow or why are you acting like this?

And I still don't see how my preferences have anything to do with the subject and I even have no idea what my taste is from your perspective.
I'm not being hostile nor a smart-ass. Drink what you like. You are the largest non-interventionist fan on this forum. Different Lactobacillus creates different flavors. Malo come primarily from Oenococcus oeni. The Cal-Davis page is there if you want more details. I don't consider hipster to be a pejorative.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#29 Post by Michael S. Monie » July 30th, 2020, 7:59 am

I Dread Natty wine!
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#30 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 8:08 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 7:57 am
I'm not being hostile nor a smart-ass.
Okay then, maybe you're just behaving in such way without being one.
Drink what you like.
Why are you repeating this all the time? What it has to do with anything?
You are the largest non-interventionist fan on this forum.
Glad to know. Somehow I never received memo.
Different Lactobacillus creates different flavors.
Yes that much I did know.
Malo come primarily from Oenococcus oeni.
My question - all this time - has been that is this the case with spontaneous MLF as well? I really well know that most if not all inoculated MLFs are done by oenococcus, but isn't the case very different if you don't inoculate but instead let whatever organisms there are in the must perform the MLF?
The Cal-Davis page is there if you want more details.
I will look into it since I don't seem to be getting answers from here.
I don't consider hipster to be a pejorative.
You certainly seemed to use the word in such fashion nonetheless. If you start calling people names, it's not your job to think if these words are pejoratives or not.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#31 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 8:24 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 8:08 am
My question - all this time - has been that is this the case with spontaneous MLF as well? I really well know that most if not all inoculated MLFs are done by oenococcus, but isn't the case very different if you don't inoculate but instead let whatever organisms there are in the must perform the MLF?
Not sure, but would imagine it's like a Petri dish full of agar growth medium. What is there grows. O. oeni is naturally in the musts. Not sure what Lactobacillus are in the must and what comes from unclean surfaces and the air.
You certainly seemed to use the word in such fashion nonetheless. If you start calling people names, it's not your job to think if these words are pejoratives or not.
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noun INFORMAL
a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#32 Post by Neal.Mollen » July 30th, 2020, 8:28 am

If I can't define the category, how can I hate them all?

Seriously, if there is no broadly accepted working definition of the term (and this thread shows pretty convincingly that there isn't), an article declaring the category a con seems a little presumptuous. Certainly, there are precious brands seeking to trade on a category that seems to be trending, and I am all for dumping on makers surfing that trend, but as a wine category I can't hate unless I can first define.

I think Sean has it right above. I am all for producers who focus on sustainability, best practices, and non-intervention in the cellar. That describes a most of the producers in my cellar, I suspect. And I don't think a one of them would cop to be a "natural wine" producer.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#33 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 8:55 am

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 9:34 pm
The UK focus of this article might be important. I've always wondered if natural wine might find a more enthusiastic consumer base in the UK, where there is already a cultural interest in funky alcoholic beverages because of the cider industry. I went to college in Bristol and, aside from discovering wine at Averys, spent much of the rest of my time drinking what we call "real cider" which, to my understanding, is a fairly close analogue to natural wine in terms of crafting philosophy.
This is a West Country phenomenon (which you would have experiences because you were in Bristol), so not really extensible to the rest of the UK! The US analogy might be saying e.g. all Americans relate to hot, spicy cuisines because in Louisiana they eat Creole food.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#34 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 8:58 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 8:24 am
Not sure, but would imagine it's like a Petri dish full of agar growth medium. What is there grows. O. oeni is naturally in the musts. Not sure what Lactobacillus are in the must and what comes from unclean surfaces and the air.
So, let me get this straight. You come and tell MLFs are always just O. oeni. When I question how's the thing with spontaneous MLF or what is this "sour wine" you keep talking about, all I get is "drink what you like!" This is akin to somebody who I know liking ripe, heavily oaked wines asking how toast levels affect on certain compounds and me shouting "drink what you like!" and recommending to browse Cal Davis. You don't see how that might come across as rather rude?

And when I really ask how is the thing, essentially all I get is "I don't know".
Definitions from Oxford Languages:

Hipster
hip·ster1
/ˈhipstər/
noun INFORMAL
a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream
And could you please next tell me how this pertains to me? Really?

Furthermore, I find it hard to come up with anything more smart-ass than responding to a claim by slamming a dictionary definition. As I said above, could you please behave more like a grown-up person?

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#35 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 9:01 am

A.Gillette wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 6:48 pm
Walk around any major winemaking region and ask about biodiversity, cover crop, organic treatments. And ask about roundup and chemical pesticides. I think the wines are here to stay.
I think that the only qualifier here is that these initiatives didn't start with the natural wine movement at all. Organic farming in the Côte d'Or, for example, was pioneered by people who are not and would not be considered natural winemakers. Whereas some of the most prominent natural winemakers in Burgundy purchase chemically farmed fruit (e.g. Philippe Pacalet) or use herbicides in their vineyards (e.g., according to her own website, Claire Naudin).

Of course, there are many points of intersections between organic farming initiatives, the biodynamic movement, and the natural wine movement. But it would be a mistake to attribute the achievements of the first two to the third.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#36 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 9:14 am

This thread is definitely tending in the direction that most debates about natural wine tend to take, which is a sort of circular and more or less acrimonious focus on definitions. I think that's partly because, as Greg observes, natural wine is more of an "aesthetic" than anything else (I once described it as an aesthetic in search of a didactic), and thus inherently hard to pin down ("I know it when I see it" etc). It's also because people sometimes resent the appropriation of the word "natural", and its reduction to a question of sulfites, which does implicitly insinuate that other wines are "unnatural"—and yes, in a sense, inferior.

At the same time, the Vogue article gets it right when it attributes the popularity of natural wines to a pursuit of authenticity, whatever exactly that might mean. And here it's interesting to reflect that we have artisanal bread, artisanal cheese, craft beer etc—but all the wine movement has is "natural wine". Whereas with bread and cheese etc our conception of what an authentic product is makes plenty of space for craft and technique, in wine we have instead a movement that has come to be ideologically premised on the renunciation of technique (even though, in fact, its wines have come to be easily identifiable by two techniques: carbonic maceration and low sulfites).

I would love to see some sort of "artisanal wine" movement come into being, defined perhaps as wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience. That would retain sulfites, inoculation, chaptalization within reason, and fining; but eliminate enzymes, centrifuges, filters, many oenological additives, and most obnoxious viticultural practices. Producers that would meet such a definition would include Foillard, Richard Leroy, Selosse, DRC, Thierry Allemand, etc etc; and the use of sulfites, instead of being definitional, would become just one aesthetic / technical choice. If the opposite of natural wine is some sort to of hypothetical "unnatural wine", the opposite of artisanal wine would be industrial wine—which seems to me much more coherent. Some producers in France are talking in this sense, such as the Union des Gens de Métier, but the notion hasn't really percolated into Anglophone wine discourse yet. Hopefully that will happen soon.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#37 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 9:54 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:14 am
I would love to see some sort of "artisanal wine" movement come into being, defined perhaps as wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience. That would retain sulfites, inoculation, chaptalization within reason, and fining; but eliminate enzymes, centrifuges, filters, many oenological additives, and most obnoxious viticultural practices. Producers that would meet such a definition would include Foillard, Richard Leroy, Selosse, DRC, Thierry Allemand, etc etc; and the use of sulfites, instead of being definitional, would become just one aesthetic / technical choice. If the opposite of natural wine is some sort to of hypothetical "unnatural wine", the opposite of artisanal wine would be industrial wine—which seems to me much more coherent.
I'm so with you on this one.

(And probably a huge majority of the board members as well.)

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#38 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 9:57 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 8:58 am
So, let me get this straight. You come and tell MLFs are always just O. oeni. When I question how's the thing with spontaneous MLF or what is this "sour wine" you keep talking about, all I get is "drink what you like!" This is akin to somebody who I know liking ripe, heavily oaked wines asking how toast levels affect on certain compounds and me shouting "drink what you like!" and recommending to browse Cal Davis. You don't see how that might come across as rather rude?
I was just pointing out the difference between O. oeni and L. plantarum when you said nearly all wine goes through MLF. L. plantarum gives me a tell tale sour taste that I often find in natty wines; akin to sour beer, sourdough, and sauerkraut. I also often get a barnyard flavor. To me, those are both faults. Acetic acid is also a fault. You have over 100 tasting notes on orange wines and nearly all your TN seem highlight that they are no SO2, non-interventionist, and naturalist wines. I'm really not trying to be mean but if you don't see how it pertains, I'm sorry...

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#39 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 10:00 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:54 am
William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:14 am
I would love to see some sort of "artisanal wine" movement come into being, defined perhaps as wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience. That would retain sulfites, inoculation, chaptalization within reason, and fining; but eliminate enzymes, centrifuges, filters, many oenological additives, and most obnoxious viticultural practices. Producers that would meet such a definition would include Foillard, Richard Leroy, Selosse, DRC, Thierry Allemand, etc etc; and the use of sulfites, instead of being definitional, would become just one aesthetic / technical choice. If the opposite of natural wine is some sort to of hypothetical "unnatural wine", the opposite of artisanal wine would be industrial wine—which seems to me much more coherent.
I'm so with you on this one.

(And probably a huge majority of the board members as well.)
Let's see what people think... maybe I will write some kind of "manifesto" setting out the position.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#40 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 10:10 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:57 am
I was just pointing out the difference between O. oeni and L. plantarum when you said nearly all wine goes through MLF. L. plantarum gives me a tell tale sour taste that I often find in natty wines; akin to sour beer, sourdough, and sauerkraut. I also often get a barnyard flavor.
Lactobacillus doesn't give you barnyard flavor. Brettanomyces does. I don't know about sour taste, because sour beers taste "sour" because they ARE sour: they have lactic acid in them. The same stuff as in all wines that have gone through MLF. The same applies to sourdough and sauerkraut. Bread or cabbage does not taste sour because they have no acidity in them (well, cabbage has a little bit). Once you introduce acid to them, of course they taste sour, because they are noticeably more sour than their non-sour counterparts!
To me, those are both faults.
I can understand a bretty barnyard character can be a fault to some; for me, it isn't. But are you saying that lactic acid is a fault? The more you explain these things to me, the more it seems to me you don't know yourself what you are talking about.
Acetic acid is also a fault.
Agreed pretty much. All wines have acetic acid, though, so it isn't really a fault - only elevated levels of acetic acid are. The threshold for it being a fault varies from person to person. I'd say I'm a medium - I can tolerate a little bit of acetic acid, as long as it doesn't go beyond subtly balsamic, but if it gets full-blown vinegar, it's a horrible fault, no matter how wonderful the wine is otherwise.
You have over 100 tasting notes on orange wines
And at +10,000 tasting notes that's less than 1% what I taste. Furthermore, not nearly all of these orange wines are natural wines; I've had lots of commercial orange wines that have nothing to do with natural wines.
nearly all your TN seem highlight that they are no SO2, non-interventionist, and naturalist wines.
All? Really, all? Out of my +10,000 TNs only a small handful are on non-interventionist wines. I've been to two (EDIT: three - I forgot the Heinrich one) naturalist tastings this year and based on that, ALL my TNs are on non-interventionist wines now? Or what? Care to elaborate?
I'm really not trying to be mean but if you don't see how it pertains, I'm sorry...
I still don't see it. How my TNs relate to anything we've discussed above? Could you PLEASE point it to me, exactly, what are you trying to get at?
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#41 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » July 30th, 2020, 10:13 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 8:39 am
For me, the really flagrant mistake is the claim that "Natural wines are those made from organic grapes, untreated with pesticides." Now that might seem logical, but there are plenty of "natural" producers who farm using chemicals.
and the reverse -- there are a ton of wines made with organic grapes and no pesticides that would not be classified as "natural wines".

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#42 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » July 30th, 2020, 10:27 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:14 am
This thread is definitely tending in the direction that most debates about natural wine tend to take, which is a sort of circular and more or less acrimonious focus on definitions. I think that's partly because, as Greg observes, natural wine is more of an "aesthetic" than anything else (I once described it as an aesthetic in search of a didactic), and thus inherently hard to pin down ("I know it when I see it" etc). It's also because people sometimes resent the appropriation of the word "natural", and its reduction to a question of sulfites, which does implicitly insinuate that other wines are "unnatural"—and yes, in a sense, inferior.

At the same time, the Vogue article gets it right when it attributes the popularity of natural wines to a pursuit of authenticity, whatever exactly that might mean. And here it's interesting to reflect that we have artisanal bread, artisanal cheese, craft beer etc—but all the wine movement has is "natural wine". Whereas with bread and cheese etc our conception of what an authentic product is makes plenty of space for craft and technique, in wine we have instead a movement that has come to be ideologically premised on the renunciation of technique (even though, in fact, its wines have come to be easily identifiable by two techniques: carbonic maceration and low sulfites).

I would love to see some sort of "artisanal wine" movement come into being, defined perhaps as wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience. That would retain sulfites, inoculation, chaptalization within reason, and fining; but eliminate enzymes, centrifuges, filters, many oenological additives, and most obnoxious viticultural practices. Producers that would meet such a definition would include Foillard, Richard Leroy, Selosse, DRC, Thierry Allemand, etc etc; and the use of sulfites, instead of being definitional, would become just one aesthetic / technical choice. If the opposite of natural wine is some sort to of hypothetical "unnatural wine", the opposite of artisanal wine would be industrial wine—which seems to me much more coherent. Some producers in France are talking in this sense, such as the Union des Gens de Métier, but the notion hasn't really percolated into Anglophone wine discourse yet. Hopefully that will happen soon.
Exactly. It is a good thing to search for non-industrial, non-mass produced winemaking, but a huge error to identify this with a purely "natural" as opposed to a craft / artisanal process. Ironically foregrounding "natural" as opposed to craft is probably in part a result of mass advertising that presents wine through a gauzy lens of bucolic natural imagery and leaves out the craft element entirely as not sufficiently exotic/attractive.

Clark Smith in his great book on "Postmodern Winemaking" (one of the best wine books ever written IMO, although highly opinionated) has a great discussion of this where he likens winemakers to chefs. In that analogy the search for a fully natural winemaking is like a committment to only raw foods. One can fully acknowledge the role of the cook as the artisan while still rejecting fast food and McDonalds-ization.

The one problem I see with William's framing above is the reference to artisanal wines as "wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience". Wine changes much more rapidly than that. If the time scale is 150 years, what would we do with stainless steel, temperature control, mechanized crushers, mechanical drainers? Advances in training and pruning in the vineyard? Capitalism revolutionizes productive techniques on the scale of a few decades not a few centuries. I feel like it is important for people (perhaps especially critics) to come to terms with the degree to which wine is constantly evolving due to market and technological trends and not mystify it as a time-hallowed eternal thing. Even though of course that mystique is a big contributor to the market value of high end wines.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#43 Post by Josh Grossman » July 30th, 2020, 10:28 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:10 am
Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:57 am
I was just pointing out the difference between O. oeni and L. plantarum when you said nearly all wine goes through MLF. L. plantarum gives me a tell tale sour taste that I often find in natty wines; akin to sour beer, sourdough, and sauerkraut. I also often get a barnyard flavor.
Lactobacillus doesn't give you barnyard flavor. Brettanomyces does. I don't know about sour taste, because sour beers taste "sour" because they ARE sour: they have lactic acid in them. The same stuff as in all wines that have gone through MLF. The same applies to sourdough and sauerkraut. Bread or cabbage does not taste sour because they have no acidity in them (well, cabbage has a little bit). Once you introduce acid to them, of course they taste sour, because they are noticeably more sour than their non-sour counterparts!
To me, those are both faults.
I can understand a bretty barnyard character can be a fault to some; for me, it isn't. But are you saying that lactic acid is a fault? The more you explain these things to me, the more it seems to me you don't know yourself what you are talking about.
Acetic acid is also a fault.
Agreed pretty much. All wines have acetic acid, though, so it isn't really a fault - only elevated levels of acetic acid are. The threshold for it being a fault varies from person to person. I'd say I'm a medium - I can tolerate a little bit of acetic acid, as long as it doesn't go beyond subtly balsamic, but if it gets full-blown vinegar, it's a horrible fault, no matter how wonderful the wine is otherwise.
You have over 100 tasting notes on orange wines
And at +10,000 tasting notes that's less than 1% what I taste. Furthermore, not nearly all of these orange wines are natural wines; I've had lots of commercial orange wines that have nothing to do with natural wines.
nearly all your TN seem highlight that they are no SO2, non-interventionist, and naturalist wines.
All? Really, all? Out of my +10,000 TNs only a small handful are on non-interventionist wines. I've been to two (EDIT: three - I forgot the Heinrich one) naturalist tastings this year and based on that, ALL my TNs are on non-interventionist wines now? Or what? Care to elaborate?
I'm really not trying to be mean but if you don't see how it pertains, I'm sorry...
I still don't see it. How my TNs relate to anything we've discussed above? Could you PLEASE point it to me, exactly, what are you trying to get at?
Of course you knew, from the above conversation that I was implying Brett; now who is being a child. There is no acid added to these things, only bacteria. Are you trying to say wine with L. plantarum, doesn't taste more sour? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_beer

Maybe my perception is wrong, but there has never been a natural wine or orange wine thread that wasn't dominated by you. Most of the TN I've seen, come from you. Too each their own is all I was saying. If you've had +10,000 wines, drink what you like.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#44 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 11:36 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:27 am
The one problem I see with William's framing above is the reference to artisanal wines as "wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience". Wine changes much more rapidly than that. If the time scale is 150 years, what would we do with stainless steel, temperature control, mechanized crushers, mechanical drainers? Advances in training and pruning in the vineyard? Capitalism revolutionizes productive techniques on the scale of a few decades not a few centuries. I feel like it is important for people (perhaps especially critics) to come to terms with the degree to which wine is constantly evolving due to market and technological trends and not mystify it as a time-hallowed eternal thing. Even though of course that mystique is a big contributor to the market value of high end wines.
Good point! Perhaps a better phrasing would be "filtered by 150 years' experience" or a similar formulation. My intention is not to advocate some form of winemaking Luddism. And certainly, it's of the nature of any kind of living craft to refine itself over the years. By 1870, in fact, there were mechanical stemmers and crushers; but clearly, from a point of view of preserving fruit integrity the materiel of today is superior, so don't imagine I'm advocating returning to Victorian models. Similarly, heat exchangers are clearly better than throwing blocks of ice in the tank; and stainless steel is clearly a more easily sanitized material to use for racking and bottling tanks than wood. (As for pruning, there's not much being done today that isn't in Guyot's book - unless you are looking for Geneva Double Curtain or some of the other yield-maximizing systems that were figured out in the second half of the 20th century).

Equally, though, these improved and refined tools can be used in ways that have not been, as I put it above, "filtered by experience". Temperature control can be used to preclude heat spikes and stuck ferments: but it can also be used to make tediously estery white wines fermented at low temperature; or over-extracted reds with long heated post-fermentation macerations. Mechanical pumps in the winery can really facilitate pumpovers and make many processes easier; but they can also lead to over-processing of the must and the extraction of coarser tannins (the formerly very long must lines chez Faiveley are one factor in why François Faiveley's wines were so brutally tannic). And some developments in winery technology have arguably been more conveniences than improvements: mechanized punch-downs are quicker and safer than punching down by foot, but they are not as gentle on stems and grapes. There have also been a lot of unintended consequences: cleaning with bleach, or using wood treated with chlorine-containing fungicides, was responsible for endemic TCA issues in several wineries in the 1970s and 1980s; chlorinated tap water has caused similar problems in some wineries in Burgundy recently. Most obviously, the agrochemical revolution of the 1950s on, with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, was advertised as "progress", yet today the biggest challenge in many regions is how to roll it back while producing a product that can be sold for more than it costs to make.

This is all thinking aloud, but my aspiration is to come up with some formulation that is on the one hand pragmatically open to refinement and evolution, but which is also very cautious about outright revolutions in practice that represent a departure from approaches known to produce very high quality wines. People have been doing this for thousands of years, at a very high level (try a perfectly preserved 1919 red Burgundy and one wonders how much those guys had to learn!), and my contention is that we should be more interested in the results of their experiments over time than in trying to reinvent the wheel.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#45 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 30th, 2020, 12:26 pm

Josh Grossman wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:28 am
Of course you knew, from the above conversation that I was implying Brett; now who is being a child.[/quote]

What? [scratch.gif] We've been discussing the whole time on MLF and not with a single word you've mentioned brett relating to MLF. How on earth were I to know you are suddenly referring to brettanomyces if you comment on features relating to MLF and what features L. plantarum gives to wines? Re-read your message and point out where and how was I supposed to understand you suddenly change the subject to brett.
There is no acid added to these things, only bacteria.
What are you talking about? Who said anything about adding acid anywhere?

What I said was they taste more sour because acid is introduced to them - as a result of LAB fermentation. Nothing about adding anything anywhere.
Are you trying to say wine with L. plantarum, doesn't taste more sour? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_beer
I honestly don't know, because I don't get microbial analyses with the wines I taste. I don't know which wines have their MLF done by oneococcus alone, which ones might have lactobacilli as well and which ones with lactobacilli have also L. plantarum in them. How do you know these things? And I still don't understand what you mean by "sour". Acetic acid? Higher TA (that's impossible since LAB increase pH)? Some flavor or a fault? To me, "sour" just means that there is acid and "more sour" means higher acidity.

And could you explain why you've included that Wikipedia article there? It pertains to what exactly?
Maybe my perception is wrong, but there has never been a natural wine or orange wine thread that wasn't dominated by you. Most of the TN I've seen, come from you. Too each their own is all I was saying. If you've had +10,000 wines, drink what you like.
I think that it is quite obvious that I drink what I like and I don't need somebody telling me it repeatedly over and over for some reason I still don't understand.

And I'm 100% positive there are lots of natural wine threads I haven't said a single word, but I do comment many such threads because I might have some experience with those wines and thus maybe something worth contributing. Is this something you disapprove?

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#46 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » July 30th, 2020, 12:59 pm

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 8:55 am
Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 9:34 pm
The UK focus of this article might be important. I've always wondered if natural wine might find a more enthusiastic consumer base in the UK, where there is already a cultural interest in funky alcoholic beverages because of the cider industry. I went to college in Bristol and, aside from discovering wine at Averys, spent much of the rest of my time drinking what we call "real cider" which, to my understanding, is a fairly close analogue to natural wine in terms of crafting philosophy.
This is a West Country phenomenon (which you would have experiences because you were in Bristol), so not really extensible to the rest of the UK! The US analogy might be saying e.g. all Americans relate to hot, spicy cuisines because in Louisiana they eat Creole food.
I take your point and agree to some extent, though the UK market is more culturally condensed than the US. It’s more like saying that you’d expect some higher appreciation of Creole or related food in Texas, whichI think you do see to some extent. Growing up in London and Cambridge I fairly often found myself in pubs with strong real ale preferences that would also sometimes extend to a broader cider portfolio including some funky stuff. Now ok, maybe not so much in, say, Scarborough or Grimsby, but overall I’d say the UK market has a fair bit more exposure than the US, where natural wine seems to have more spread than funky ciders, which seem of only very localised and recent interest.
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#47 Post by William Kelley » July 30th, 2020, 1:02 pm

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 12:59 pm
William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 8:55 am
Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 9:34 pm
The UK focus of this article might be important. I've always wondered if natural wine might find a more enthusiastic consumer base in the UK, where there is already a cultural interest in funky alcoholic beverages because of the cider industry. I went to college in Bristol and, aside from discovering wine at Averys, spent much of the rest of my time drinking what we call "real cider" which, to my understanding, is a fairly close analogue to natural wine in terms of crafting philosophy.
This is a West Country phenomenon (which you would have experiences because you were in Bristol), so not really extensible to the rest of the UK! The US analogy might be saying e.g. all Americans relate to hot, spicy cuisines because in Louisiana they eat Creole food.
I take your point and agree to some extent, though the UK market is more culturally condensed than the US. It’s more like saying that you’d expect some higher appreciation of Creole or related food in Texas, whichI think you do see to some extent. Growing up in London and Cambridge I fairly often found myself in pubs with strong real ale preferences that would also sometimes extend to a broader cider portfolio including some funky stuff. Now ok, maybe not so much in, say, Scarborough or Grimsby, but overall I’d say the UK market has a fair bit more exposure than the US, where natural wine seems to have more spread than funky ciders, which seem of only very localised and recent interest.
...and you will not find many natural wine drinkers in Grimsby or Scarborough, it's true!
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Jan Janas
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#48 Post by Jan Janas » July 30th, 2020, 5:52 pm

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:00 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:54 am
William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:14 am
I would love to see some sort of "artisanal wine" movement come into being, defined perhaps as wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience. That would retain sulfites, inoculation, chaptalization within reason, and fining; but eliminate enzymes, centrifuges, filters, many oenological additives, and most obnoxious viticultural practices. Producers that would meet such a definition would include Foillard, Richard Leroy, Selosse, DRC, Thierry Allemand, etc etc; and the use of sulfites, instead of being definitional, would become just one aesthetic / technical choice. If the opposite of natural wine is some sort to of hypothetical "unnatural wine", the opposite of artisanal wine would be industrial wine—which seems to me much more coherent.
I'm so with you on this one.

(And probably a huge majority of the board members as well.)
Let's see what people think... maybe I will write some kind of "manifesto" setting out the position.
I'd be quite interested in reading a "Manifeste Artisans du Vin" setting out the position [cheers.gif]

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Marcu$ Stanley
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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#49 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » July 31st, 2020, 7:55 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:36 am
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:27 am
The one problem I see with William's framing above is the reference to artisanal wines as "wines made using techniques validated by a minimum of 150 years of experience". Wine changes much more rapidly than that. If the time scale is 150 years, what would we do with stainless steel, temperature control, mechanized crushers, mechanical drainers? Advances in training and pruning in the vineyard? Capitalism revolutionizes productive techniques on the scale of a few decades not a few centuries. I feel like it is important for people (perhaps especially critics) to come to terms with the degree to which wine is constantly evolving due to market and technological trends and not mystify it as a time-hallowed eternal thing. Even though of course that mystique is a big contributor to the market value of high end wines.
Good point! Perhaps a better phrasing would be "filtered by 150 years' experience" or a similar formulation. My intention is not to advocate some form of winemaking Luddism. And certainly, it's of the nature of any kind of living craft to refine itself over the years. By 1870, in fact, there were mechanical stemmers and crushers; but clearly, from a point of view of preserving fruit integrity the materiel of today is superior, so don't imagine I'm advocating returning to Victorian models. Similarly, heat exchangers are clearly better than throwing blocks of ice in the tank; and stainless steel is clearly a more easily sanitized material to use for racking and bottling tanks than wood. (As for pruning, there's not much being done today that isn't in Guyot's book - unless you are looking for Geneva Double Curtain or some of the other yield-maximizing systems that were figured out in the second half of the 20th century).

Equally, though, these improved and refined tools can be used in ways that have not been, as I put it above, "filtered by experience". Temperature control can be used to preclude heat spikes and stuck ferments: but it can also be used to make tediously estery white wines fermented at low temperature; or over-extracted reds with long heated post-fermentation macerations. Mechanical pumps in the winery can really facilitate pumpovers and make many processes easier; but they can also lead to over-processing of the must and the extraction of coarser tannins (the formerly very long must lines chez Faiveley are one factor in why François Faiveley's wines were so brutally tannic). And some developments in winery technology have arguably been more conveniences than improvements: mechanized punch-downs are quicker and safer than punching down by foot, but they are not as gentle on stems and grapes. There have also been a lot of unintended consequences: cleaning with bleach, or using wood treated with chlorine-containing fungicides, was responsible for endemic TCA issues in several wineries in the 1970s and 1980s; chlorinated tap water has caused similar problems in some wineries in Burgundy recently. Most obviously, the agrochemical revolution of the 1950s on, with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, was advertised as "progress", yet today the biggest challenge in many regions is how to roll it back while producing a product that can be sold for more than it costs to make.

This is all thinking aloud, but my aspiration is to come up with some formulation that is on the one hand pragmatically open to refinement and evolution, but which is also very cautious about outright revolutions in practice that represent a departure from approaches known to produce very high quality wines. People have been doing this for thousands of years, at a very high level (try a perfectly preserved 1919 red Burgundy and one wonders how much those guys had to learn!), and my contention is that we should be more interested in the results of their experiments over time than in trying to reinvent the wheel.
This is a great rundown of the pluses and minuses of different technologies and the subtle and often unexpected ways that technology changes wine. Critics do far too little of this, instead boxing themselves into one camp where technology is ignored and wines are just getting "better and better" (read: more reliably international-styled and gleamingly fruity) or raging at wine having fallen from some imagined static state of grace in the past.

William, your post on the subtle ways in which technology and modern resources have changed site "terroir" and wine character in Cote de Beaune whites was an amazing example of how to do this kind of analysis. (It is post #173 on this page -- viewtopic.php?f=1&t=170829&p=3009694 -- though short, it is seriously one of the best pieces of analysis I have ever read on wine boards). Critics need to write about this far more often than they do. Note the breadth of change you point to as significant in that post, including not just technological change in winemaking but e.g. changes in social practices and communications technologies that permit on-demand consulting with experts outside of the locality on winemaking practices -- something that would have been prohibitively expensive and difficult for almost all winemakers 100 years ago and has had a profound impact on the "locality" of wines.

With that said, doesn't your own sharp sense of the constant flow of changes in winemaking and their sometimes transformational impact lead you away from the idea of defining any fixed set of practices as a definition of artisanal winemaking? The difficulty is that it is really about the spirit in which winemaking is approached. Is Randy Dunn not an artisanal winemaker because he used reverse osmosis machines? Would you really want to exclude a winemaker you respected from an artisanal definition because they tried an unprecedented approach? The difficulty of defining a spirit or approach and actually have it be meaningful instead of vaporous generalizations is why these efforts and manifestos often break down.

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Re: Natty Wine: A Millennial Con?

#50 Post by A.Gillette » July 31st, 2020, 9:28 am

William Kelley wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:36 am
This is all thinking aloud, but my aspiration is to come up with some formulation that is on the one hand pragmatically open to refinement and evolution, but which is also very cautious about outright revolutions in practice that represent a departure from approaches known to produce very high quality wines. People have been doing this for thousands of years, at a very high level (try a perfectly preserved 1919 red Burgundy and one wonders how much those guys had to learn!), and my contention is that we should be more interested in the results of their experiments over time than in trying to reinvent the wheel.
I can’t help but think that you are sort of missing the point of why many people like natural wine. When you talk about “approaches known to produce very high quality wines”, you are just talking about a fundamentally different system of evaluation. I think part of this goes to what some find so threatening about natural wines: It’s the idea that an accumulated body of knowledge about what makes wine good developed over many years of tasting might be fundamentally wrong.

A
Alex

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