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05/19/2011

Comments

Louisehurren

Alice, really nice to talk to you at the Natural Wine Fair, I was encouraged to see so many smiling faces when we met on the first trade day. Hope it becomes an annual fixture and encourages more (informed, reasoned) debate. Best, Louise

Arnold Waldstein

Hi Alice.

We don't know each other but I'm a passionate Natural Wine lover living in NYC and a fan of yours for a long while.

Thanks for this post.

I've spent much of the last week on various London newspaper comment strings trying to put a reasonable point of view on the rather astutely stupid attitudes of many of the British press, especially the wine press.

BTW..this is who I am:

http://arnoldwaldstein.com/wine

These represent what I believe about this endless polemic and why I think a big change is coming:

Natural wines... a perfect storm of social change for the wine world http://t.co/4pERC2P

Natural winemaking…a taste revolution whose time has come http://t.co/9LR53nu

Thanks for riding herd on this important and annoyingly aggravating debate.

Arnold

Pauldgordon

Really interested to taste more Natural wines but my beef is if it is a natural wine would it not naturally smell and taste of grapes instead of apples and orange rind? You have to now the chemistry first if you want to muck around at the edges http://winechakra.blogspot.com/

Vinos Ambiz

I've always found it 'interesting' (shall we say) that almost all reviews and commentries in the mainstream press of 'conventional' wines are positive, if not gushing, while the focus when writing about 'natural wines' is on the alleged faults. I wonder why that is:
- lazy unprofessional journalist hasn't bothered to actually sample a range of natural wines, and has just regurgitated the words of another lazy unprofessional journalist?
- need to produce sensational headlines to sell more newspapers?
- need to be clever and have a laugh at the expense of a fringe group which is not understood and/or feared?
- all of the above? other reasons?

Alicefeiring

Arnold, thanks for introducing yourself. I agree, a metaphor for social change.

Alicefeiring

Paul, apples and orange rind? Ever have lovely Chenin? There's a world of flavors out there to discover.

Lionel Nierop

Alice.

You say that:

'the thusly trained MS or MW, is taught to reject the smell and taste of oxidation (nuts, orange peels) in even small amounts as part of the general wine picture. They reject perceived volatile acidity (nail polish, cider)as well as any trace of brett (sheepiness).'

and seem to cite Margaret Rand as the evidence for this. My experience is that characteristics which technically count as flaws are viewed in an overall context. I.e. does the presence of brett, VA or oxidation add to the wine or detract from it.

One swallow does not a summer make and by taking one person's view as evidence of broader attitudes within the trade, I would suggest you seriously risk alienating those who might otherwise approach 'natural wines' with an open mind and thus the movement's long-term prospects within the wider wine world.

Alicefeiring

Lionel,

First off, I am not sure at all what Ms. Rand's training is or was, but I am fairly sure she is not an MW, otherwise she'd use those initials after her name. However, the strength of her reaction did help me to draw my theory. I am not basing this post on one person's reaction but from a great number of conversations I've had with WSET and MW's wherever they may live. This seems perfectly reasonable to me, the program teaches wine flaws and trains people to identify them, many that exist happily in the natural wine world.

So, this observation, right or wrong, was distilled after reading and discussing over the years but crystallized by the level of her affront. I can also include winemaking training. Here's a quote from Andrew Waterhouse, Professor and Chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, during a USDA hearing requesting that the American Organic wine law, that presently does not allow sulfur, be rescinded.

"Without sulfites, wine is extremely perishable and should be refrigerated for its entire 1 year life cycle between harvests, and from winery to consumer. Unfortunately this is impossible in today's national wine distribution system. 

So, wines made without sulfites, especially the white wines, continue to show serious flaws. I am convinced that these persistent flaws are the reason the organic wine market is minuscule and will continue to be so."

(you can read the whole story here. http://blog.wblakegray.com/2011/05/sulfites-in-organic-wine-update.html)

Thanks for you comment. I am not sure what there was to be gained in holding my observation and my thoughts, is it not something interesting to think about?

Lionel Nierop

Alice,

My mistake - I'd understood you to say that Ms Rand falls in to the MW/MS camp you say are 'bashing' natural wines.

As regards the quote from Andrew Waterhouse, his point is simply that wines made without sulphites will oxidise. Presumably, if a wine maker is seeking to express a place or grape in their wines, then oxidation will mask this and is undesirable?

For what it's worth, my impression is that most of the (UK) trade accept 'flaws' in many cases - undoubtedly brett and VA can add to a wine. Ultimately, just as with oak, alcohol and acidity, balance is the watch-word. Musar is a good example (showing VA and brett), along with many Rhone wines and some notable Aussie examples e.g. Henschke's reds which tend to show some earthy/savoury brett characters. I certainly struggle to recognise the black/white divide you describe.

Not withstanding our differences of opinion, thank you for an interesting post.

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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.
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