A few years ago, an ‘organic’ wine trend blossomed: ‘natural’ wine. With increasing concern focused around health and preservatives added to food, it is no surprise that natural wine is gathering momentum. These biodynamic, low-sulphur bottles are taking centre stage, and featuring in the world’s top restaurants.
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What is natural wine?
Natural wine is created using the natural growing process, rather than moulding grapes to a particular taste or texture. A lack of intervention ensures that chemicals and additives are kept to a minimum. Many natural wines are produced from organically grown vines, and a lot are biodynamic. These wineries take a more holistic approach, using preparations that follow the phases of the moon. Natural wines appear to be cloudy in appearance, due to their unfiltered state.
What is the philosophy behind natural wine?
The natural wine movement may be viewed as a new phenomenon due to the current media hype, however, these wines were first made 8000 years ago. The wines of days gone by were natural: made from crushed and fermented grapes.
According to biodynamic consultant, Monty Waldin, modern day wines have succeeded through technology. Waldin adds ‘New World wineries were technology-driven from the word go because they lacked experience, and strategies revolved around intervention in the vineyard and winery to eliminate risk.’
Many winemakers are now advocating a return to the vineyard’s natural state. They share a vision to nurture biodiversity, rather than trying to control the product through technology.
Where can we find it?
Across London, you will find that natural wines are now widespread. The capital provides a fantastic selection to choose from.
Claude Bosi, Head Chef at Hibiscus, pioneered a wine menu focused largely on natural wine. In 2011, renowned Master of Wine Isabelle Legron convinced him to rework his wine philosophy, and to focus on these options.
The real experts behind natural wine in London are Guillaume Siard and Thierry Bouteloup from Antidote Wine Bar. They are rigorous in their approach, advocating that grapes be produced by hand and harvested manually.
Other natural wine destinations include 40 Maltby Street, Brawn, Pinch, Naughty Piglets, Toasted, Soif, The Remedy, Winemakers Club and Terroirs.
At Noma, the world’s best restaurant- famed for their devotion to local ingredients, Wine Director Pontus Elofsson noted, “I started to realise the wines with the least amount of intervention, chemicals, and techniques involved had an energy and focus that many of the conventional wines did not.”
There is also an upcoming two-day wine celebration in the UK, called RAW, which features over 190 growers and the most exciting collection of natural wines in the UK. The festival will be hosted at the Truman Brewery, 17-18 May and will provide the opportunity to taste natural wines in the presence of the growers themselves.