All right. It has to happen. So let it flow.
When I read Lettie Teague's lead in the WSJ, it was obvious where she was going.
WILLIAM JAMES was not only a famous philosopher but a source of some pretty memorable quotes. One of his better-known observations, "Belief creates the actual fact," came to mind recently as I was researching the topic of natural wine.
Yes, I said to myself, with a different interpretation that could indeed well describe what happend with the grass root phoenonemon of natural wine.
To recap, in the 1970s Marcel Lapierre observed The two tits of the Beaujolais are sugar and sulfur. Marcel, who lived in Morgon in the Beaujolais, having decided that the wines he made were undrinkable, he wanted to return to real wine that tasted delicious, the way generations before him worked. He hooked up with Jules Chauvet, a winemaker/scientist researching ways to bring a stable, lovely, additive-free wine to the table, staring with organic viticulture. An essential piece of the history was to make a wine without the use of added sulfur.
Why? Well, chemical agriculture was wrong. Additives interfere with direct expression. Too much sulfur was obnoxious, smells and felt awful. Those were beliefs. Winemakers and their friends were huge drinkers who didn't want the huge sulfur hangover. That was desire. Out of that great combo of belief and desire the trend to make these wines grew. More winemakers tasted them, liked them, and worked that way. Drinkers loved them. It was a secret spoken out loud.
Today, demand is greater than the supply. This is a situation guaranteed to activate any marketers salivatory glands. I think it must be getting some more conventional winemakers antsy. Afterall, when wines like Provence's Pfifferling are on allocation, (fact) wouldn't others who make more expensive wine get a little jealous? Being closed out of the wines she wants and needs is driving sommeliers like Pascaline Lepeltier crazy There simply isn't enough of the good stuff around. So I have to wonder, what wines Lettie tasted that she rejected.
For the piece, (it didn't get in) Lettie asked me when the term natural wine first came to be used. I suspected that it originated with the bar a vins naturel...so probably the wine bars in Paris started to use it? I emailed Thierry Puzelat to confirm. He said, "In my memory, at first we were using vins sans soufre, vin naturel came later just before we created the association about 10 years ago." Jean-Pierre Robinot's wife Noella had a different take. Robinot had one of the first of two natural wine bars in Paris. (Francois Morel had the other).
Le terme “ vin naturel” a été utilisé par un groupe de passionnés de vins ( dont je faisais partie) qui ont crée les uns après les autres leur bar à vins ; et ce à partir de 1986. On dégustait des Morgons sans sulfite de Jules Chauvet (notre maître à tous ) et de Marcel Lapierre qui nous ont convaincu que les vins sans sulfite avaient une autre dimension. Donc Jean-Pierre parlait de Vin naturel en 1986 et c’est en 1989 qu’il a crée son bar à vins ou il vendait des vins naturels.
To translated: The term was used but a group of passionates wine lovers who created wine bars in Paris from 1986. Marcel Lapierre had convinced us that wines without sulfur had a different dimension. So Pierre talked about the wines since 1986 and started to sell natural wines in his wine bar in 1989.
So the wine bar peeps used it, but it was just code for nothing added to a wine, including sulfur. When the association started, the term was more formalized.