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Alice, if you're going to lump all these producers together as manipulators, why not at least taste them? Palmina produces an orange wine from Tocai Friuliano, fermented on skins, with no SO2 added. Sounds ultra-natural by your personal definition of "nothing added nothing taken away, a touch of sulfur as needed if needed." This is an outlier in their production, but I'm not privy to all that they do. Maybe some of their wines are natural, maybe some are less so.

As much as you want to define natural, it is not defined. One major problem you ignore, for example, is vineyard manipulation. Copper sulfate and Bordeaux mixture are commonly accepted as natural and permitted in organic and BioD farming. But I'd view these as pragmatic chemical additions. Moreover, while I cannot offer any hard numbers as far as useage, it is likely that in more humid, continental climates anti-fungal treatments are needed more often than in dry, arid climates. By this metric, I'd figure new world regions would have an advantage.

It seems the deck is stacked to some extent. While these producers tout their vineyard practices since they have a serious advantage there, you focus only on the winemaking side. As I see it, what goes on in the vineyard is the most important part. If you insist on a very narrow definition of natural, it ought to be extend to the whole process from bud break to bottling in order to be self consistent.

Beyond that, though, I think you simply don't want these producers to stay in business. The economics of their region do not allow for them throw away wine. So they are pragmatic and fix it so it can sell. Instead of targeting the pragmatists who are doing their best given certain constraints, wouldn't it be more effective to aim for the cynical serial spoofulators?


Hi There, thanks so much for commenting.

First of all I want to apologize if my wording in this piece caused any offense. Perhaps I should have stayed quiet as it was none of my business. But there you go, I spoke up and it's too late.

I want to point out that I didn't 'lump' all of those producers into one group. I suggested that some of them might be less 'natural' than others and for a week that was introducing SF to new and interesting and perhaps wild tastes, I didn't see what could be learned from some in the group.

I do indeed address farming. Farming is essential and low or no chemical farming is key. In fact, I take it as a given. I'm not sure why you think I ignore it, but I can only think it is because you're not familiar with my writing.

I agree with you, copper in the vineyard is certainly problematic. A while back there was a lively copper debate on the blog and it is worth revisiting. But one must do what one must do to sustain their crop. No? A conscientious farmer is going to use a lot less of the mixture you'd expect. Small farming is going to use far fewer treatments than large scale. Natural is not set the grapes out and pray that they turn into wine, one needs to guide a wine and choose between evils. I have heard people berate organic farmers for their use of petrochemical in tractors...or is it just an excuse to use chemical weedkillers and pesticides?

About your point of fixing a wine. That is a very different philosophical point of view between one who works natural and one who doesn't. "Fixing" a wine is different from saving a wine. Save a wine? No one is going to throw stones. People must make a living.

Making a wine towards a market is also very different than working with soil and climate. And on the topic of sulfur, natural wine evolved from the desire to make wine without sulfur, but just making a wine without sulfur does not make wine natural.

I hope I didn't once again muddy the waters. In case I did,
have you seen Remy Charest's fabulously unemotional and straight shooting piece on natural wines? You might take a look. He did a great job.


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I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.

And, if you'd like a signed copy of either THE BATTLE FOR WINE AND LOVE OR HOW I SAVED THE WORLD FROM PARKERIZATION or NAKED WINE, feel free to contact me directly.