Natural Wine ain’t a new thing. It’s pretty difficult and ultimately unhelpful, to peg it with a narrow definition - there’s no sole mouthfeel, flavour profile, look, colour or in fact a universally accepted definition to describe this process of wine production.
Natural wine should be seen as an ideological direction; a labour-intensive shift towards conscious viticulture patterns, responsible, low-intervention production methods and a more intertwined relationship between land and ‘maker’ or lack their of.
Like all wine, the product reflects the terroir (a french term that encapsulates characteristics of climatic, soil, slope, altitude etc etc). However, this relationship is more pronounced when it comes to Natural Wine. As Bertrand explained to me; “if the hard mahi goes into the vineyard, the wine will be easy to make. The grapes simply should act as a vector for the terroir”.
Organic vineyards avoid the application of herbicides and pesticides during the growing process. Chemical intervention processes have very real and lasting consequences. To re-adjust a vineyard from a chemical fertilizer rich diet takes time.
Think of it as your diet consisting of 24/7 Maccas, then suddenly shifting to leafy greens, good fats and fibres – its gonna take some time for your skin to clear up and that wheezy cough to dissipate.
You’ll be able to spot an organic vineyard by the lush biodynamic undergrowth of miscellaneous green beneath the rows. In large scale commercial vineyards, this undergrowth will often be barren, scoured clear via a sprinkling of chemical napalm (not actual napalm but ya get it).
A key feature of natural winemaking processes is that it often allows for a more broad encounter with environmental elements, such as the wild yeasts and cultures already prevalent in the vineyard. As opposed to artificially adding these, as well as other chemical controls during the production process, the winemaker must balance these existing elements, guiding them towards their intention.
Inevitably there will be inconsistencies but these are truly living wines - personal, specific and a reflection of their makers intention.