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More on Natural Wine!!

There was a great article in Decanter this month about natural wines.  The For and Against camps putting their various arguments, bit like Labour and Tory but more interesting and with genuine difference of opinion!    I have to say that I am in the For camp although with the proviso that the wine actually tastes good.  I disagree or rather I am disappointed with David Gleave MW who emblazoned his Liberty trade list with the words ‘you won’t find any of the so-called natural wines on our list!’  More the pity as they have a lot to offer and I think this attitude is representative of an excellent wine importer who’s portfolio is becoming sadly more and more boring and one dimensional.  Gleave’s affirmation that natural wines are ‘marred by one fault or another’ is a little over simplistic for a wine man of such experience and expertise.  He has obviously not tasted the likes of Sancerre Riffault from the Loire, Cos from Sicily or Le Clos Ouvert from Chile.  All of these wines are clean as a whistle and fresh as a daisy.

The question what is natural wine is dealt with in Decanter.  The way I see it, natural wine is made with the least intervention possible in both vineyard and cellar and with the least possible amount of synthetic products, weather it be yeasts, enzymes, fertilizers, fining agents etc etc.  Basically natural wine is what they used to make centuries ago before technology came along.  One of the pioneering exponents, Josko Gravner in Friuli aims to make wine like they did 3000 years ago in Georgia, using clay amphorae buried in the ground as fermentation vessels.  Not all natural wines are so extreme and procedures and wackiness factor varies enormously.  But one philosophy is constant throughout, let nature take its course, let the wine make itself and let it express exactly what that particular piece of vineyard land has to offer in any particular year.
Purity, I love it, it should be the essence of everything we eat and drink!

Here a few quotes from Decanter but it is worth getting a copy for the full article. Decanter September 2011, page 38, ‘It’s only natural’

‘Wine is a natural product so the truer to its origin it can be, the better’
Steven Spurrier, consultant editor Decanter

‘Organic and Bio-dynamic are the tools, natural is the philosophy’
Alexandre  Bain, wine maker in Pouilly Fumé

Lack of additives is a boon for wine drinkers, anecdotal evidence suggests that natural wines induce fewer side effects than their controversial counterparts.  I’ve met people who have rediscovered wine thanks to additive free bottles.’
Isabelle Legeron MW self proclaimed natural wine disciple

‘Making great wine is to flirt with fault’
Paul Old wine maker at Le Clos Perdus in the Languedoc.

‘Wine is one of the few food industries not regulated by labelling laws.  As we become increasingly aware of what we eat, it seems bizarre that we are not yet asking the same questions of what we drink.’  Isabelle Legeron MW


What’s in your wine?? 

The EU allows some 60 (yes 60!) additives in wine, if wine makers had to list them, the label would cover the entire length of the bottle and hang off the end!’  Here are a few that may surprise you….

Dimethyl dicarbonate:  Sounds awful, preservative used in bulk (think cheap and Supermarket) wine.
Gum Arabic: Imparts softness to wine’s mouth feel and smooth’s out tannins, you know how we all like ‘smooth wine’ well that’s how they make it!  (Again think cheap and Supermarket)
Isinglass: Comes from a fish, it is used to fine (a kind of filtration) the wines, especially in Champagne.
Mega Purple or Mega Red: adds colour and sweetness, common in the US (think cheap and supermarket again)
Sugar: Is used everywhere to increase alcohol (even in expensive Burgundy) and flavour, apart from natural wines.
Tannin Powder: Used to beef up structure, also common in Burgundy.

SO2 (E220), Sulphur dioxide, antimicrobial and antioxidant, again it is found in almost everything we eat and drink in minute quantities.  Above 10mg/litre, a wine must be labelled ‘Contains Sulphites’ and it is commonly blamed for headaches, nausea and other problems associated with drinking wine, which in my view are more likely to be as a result of the ‘booze’!
Maximum total sulphite levels in a bottle are 150mg/litre, 200mg/litre and 400mg/litre for red, white and sweet wines respectively.  Most natural wine makers average between 40 and 80mg/litre so if you think you have a problem with sulphites, natural wine is for you!  Very few wines are made with none at all but here a couple I stock.

•    Pierre Frick Chasselas San Souffre 08 France £13.50
•    Cecchin Malbec Sin Sulfiti 08 Argentina £11.95

To purchase, please contact or phone 01729 823885

As usual there are natural wines highly recommended in Decanter that I have been stocking and talking about for ages!!  Here are a few of them…..

•    Prosecco Casa Coste Piane Loris Follador Veneto £14.95

4 stars, 16.5/20 (Decanter) Unusual bubbly is made using the Champagne method, uncommon in the Veneto.  Not disgorged, it is slightly hazy.  Bone-dry and incredible density of floral notes, fresh and easy drinking.  Perfect.  Rob’s wacky rating 2/5 very easy to like.

•    Duc de Nauves Côtes de France 09 Château Le Puy Bordeaux £14.95

4 stars, 16.5/20 (Decanter) New cuvee, merlot dominated blend, round and silky with delicious aromas of ripe plums and cherries.  Rob’s wacky rating 2/5 fairly classic Bordeaux, clean, juicy and highly drinkable.

•    VDP du Gard Galets Rouge 10 Vignerons d’Estezargues Southern Rhone £8.50

4 stars, 16.5/20 (Decanter) One of the cheapest natural wines on the market, made by a quality driven and progressive co-op , un-oaked juicy, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, could be drunk chilled at lunch.  Oozes fresh, ripe pomegranate and black cherries.  Barbecue time! Rob’s wacky rating 3/5, very easy drinking if you like crunchy fresh youthful red with character!

•    Pouilly Fumé 09 Alexandre Bain Loire £23.00

5 stars, 20/20 (Decanter) 100% Sauvignon Blanc (but you would never guess!) is born in extremely low-yielding vineyards, partly ploughed by horse.  It shows rich notes of liquorice, honey-suckle and acacia flower with fresh acidity and a hint of nutty oxidation.  Unusual but beautifully crafted Sauvignon, ‘The best I’ve ever tasted’ Isabelle Legeron MW Rob’s wacky rating 4/5 you need to have an open mind and genuinely like wine!


3 x Prosecco Casa Coste Piane Loris Follador Veneto £14.95
3 x VDP du Gard Les Galets Rouge 10 Vignerons d’Estezargues Southern Rhone £8.50
3 x Duc de Nauves Côtes de France 09 Château Le Puy Bordeaux £14.95
3 x Pouilly Fumé 09 Alexandre Bain Loire £23.00

Total £181.20

Special case price save 10% (£18.12) only £163.08

To purchase, please contact or phone 01729 823885

And here are some more beautifully crafted natural wines which ooze character and are very drinkable.  Due to the naturalness of the product, they are guaranteed no hangover!! (Unless you drink two bottles to your self!)  And by the way, Loire reds are fantastic, try them with grilled fish, hearty salads with bacon and potatoes, boiled eggs with rich home made oily, mustardy dressings, mature soft cheeses, fatty charcuterie, crusty bread (from an independent bakery to mop up the oil) etc etc etc etc……..i am hungry!

•    Gran Cerdo Tempranillo 2010 Usabiaga Northern Spain amazing value at only £7.50

Biodynamic soft- fruit-drenched mini Rioja sin crianza

•    Pif,  Cot/Cabernet Franc Clos des Roche Blanche 2010 Loire £10.95

A beautiful natural wine that is fresh, utterly vibrant and charming beyond belief. Throbbing with healthy purple, the flavours are clean and crunchy, the palate full of sap and zip with a trace of graphite minerality bringing the wine to an exhilarating close. This is real grapes-to-bottle stuff.

•    Les Servières, Sylvain Fadat 2010 Languedoc £11.95

A lynx and a Sphinx. Les Servières (pure Cinsault) 2010 combines the best aspects of the two previous vintages, exhibiting the spiciness of 08 and the ripe fruit of 09. Beautifully balanced and cracking value.

•    Cheverny Rouge, Domaine du Moulin 2010 Loire £11.50

Redcurrants, cranberries and raspberries – a red fruit pot-pourri…

•    La Guerrerie Rouge 09/10 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Loire £16.95

Excellent Loire red, smooth subtle Cot (Malbec) and bright Gamay fruit, barnyardy character, red and black berries and soft tannins, minerals, savoury, made with wild yeast and minute levels of sulphur, is warm, rich, distinctly alive, and lovely.

•    Blancas Nobles 08 Barranco Oscuro    Spain £13.95

Great discovery, deep yellow colour and wild, natural aromas, slightly oxidised nose but all the better for it.  Palate is fresh with full body, bruised ripe apple and cream.  Belting wine, not sure what it is made of but comes from the Alpujarra Mountains north of Seville and the grapes are grown at nearly 1400 metres making this vineyard one of the highest in Europe!


2 x Gran Cerdo Tempranillo 2010 Usabiaga  £7.50
2 x Blancas Nobles 08 Barranco Oscuro Seville £13.95
2 x La Guerrerie Rouge 09/10 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Loire £16.95
2 x Cheverny Rouge, Domaine du Moulin 2010 Loire £11.50
2 x Les Servières, Sylvain Fadat 2010 Languedoc £11.95
2 x Pif,  Cot/Cabernet Franc Clos des Roche Blanche 2010 Loire £10.95

Total = £145.60

Special case offer price save 10% (£14.56) only £131

To purchase, please contact or phone 01729 823885

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