I've been emailing with Dave McIntyre about his WAPO piece. I hate being written about so I can't blame him if he was peeved, but you know what? He was a complete mensch. He did sign off the last email by saying... "I look forward to your Part 3 if you do one - I hope it will be a full-throated oratory on the merits of natural wine rather than a reflexive attack on those who may not see eye-to-eye with you about it." I think one of the great misconceptions about me is that I want to convert the world to natural, or my natural wines. I actually don't care. What I do care about is 1) misleading the drinking public by making them believe an industrial is natural. 2) I do care about there being enough of 'my kind of wines,' for me to drink. Ten and twenty years ago one didn't have to worry about a definition of natural wine. It was obvious at first sniff and taste. It was either volatile like a chemistry experiment gone wrong, or it was vibrant, precise and fluid, sparking with energy and sometimes strangeness. The good and the great ones provoked a reaction that I have never seen from a conventional wine. The spring Frank Bruni, the brilliant past New York Time restaurant critic returned to the US, we were at a mutual friends house. I put a glass of wine in his hand and he broke out laughing. 'What the hell is this?" he asked. He loved it. The wine was Patapon, Pineau d'aunis and gamay blend from Christian Chaussard. Frank laughed. That is the most brilliant reaction. He was used to spoof Italian and he thought those were the ones he liked. But this wine changed his wine life. This weekend at the ICWSI in New Orleans there was plenty of fabulous champagne. But many, and I'm talking many were thrilled over the Plageoles, a pet nat. I mean, it was exciting. People were dragging their friends over to see the wine as if it was a cute puppy. From Frank to the folk in NOLA, they didn't know these wines belonged to a club called 'natural.' They just resonated like a tuning fork vibration. The best of the wines surprise. I'm on board with a resistance to defining the category--as recently stated by Jamie Goode because of that inner anarchist. But I know that this will open the way for winemakers who produce conventionally to claim they are 'natural,' -even if they use sulfur at ever step of the way and yeast and acid---at the very minimum. It might be interesting to see what the Association des Vins Naturels has to say ....Download file When Dave suggested to me that his conventional wines are my industrial wines, he had correctly observed. Over the years I consider yeasted, RO'd, MOXed, acidified overoaked and over-sulfured wines as industrial, while to many others, that would be the convention. Industrial, I imagine? Those wines would add; enzymes, tannins and gum arabic and bottle juice made completely by recipe. Neither one of those appeal to me. But really, so what. I'm beginning to think, so what? All that matters is the taste. But while Jamie believes the added yeast is debatable for those seeking to make wine expressive of terroir and with minimal intervention, I think it's not. Not yeasting is a basic tenet of the natural wine movement, even more essential than the sulfur issue. Using a non-aromatic yeast? Well, if it tastes great maybe that's "natural enough?" At least to some. But in the end, the nothing added (a little S02 excepted--disgression of winemaker) and nothing taken away will be the wines I recommend, because they are the ones I want to drink. Do I still like G. Mascarello and Produtorri del Barbaresco? Sure. Of course. But still....I respond emotionally to wines and not by rule. If a wine that is yeasted happens to slip in? What the hell. That said, let me tell you of some wines that excited me lately. White **'09 La Clarine Farms Viognier $22 This is and orange from the Sierra Nevada Foothills from the hands of Hank Beckmeyer. Slightly cloudy orange, tannic and apricot, and bone dry and over a week later, still holding strong. Intense and food worthy intense. ** '08 Plageoles Ondenc $27 What the hell is Ondenc? A white grape from Gaillac known as Irvine's White in Australia. We need more of this baby. Screams licorice and does somersaults to boot. Red ** '08 Grange Tiphaine, Clef de Sol $17 Chenin blanc that reaches in and laughs down your throat. The acidity is just fierce, gritty and balance and long long long finish. ** '04 Tournelle Ploussard $24 Kind of spicy, peppery with an intriguing powdery texture. 05 Fondedicto Pirouette $25 Beautiful carignan, elegant with this crazy fruit/soil cocktail. 07 Stella di Campalto Rosso di Montalcino $40 When I find a true brunello or rosso it's cause for celebration, there are so few of them. The balance is like a spoon on a nose, pine forest with lilting cherry. **'08 Coturri Carignane $24 Love this wine. From Mendocino! And one of those go-to's to see real California. Not that I know what real California tastes like, but this spicy number full of rich sun does it.