I'm supposedly cutting out booze until Christmas, but I'm still on the wagon and just trying desperately not to fall off, so I'm basically holding on to this old vehicle with one hand while clutching a bottle in the other, the road is steep and very bumpy indeed. I also feel this uncontrollable wagon is long overdue an MOT, so lets hope the wheels don't come off.
So, again I'm plugging Whistle Wines, but it's the only place to unplug natural wines in the South West and luckily I work next door to it. So yes, Whistle Wines does a fine selection of these amazing natural wines and I'm ploughing my way through them like an organic farmer on a Lamborghini tractor.
There are many meanings to the term Natural Wine, for example the grapes could be grown organically or bio-dynamicly, there could be no added sulphites, sugar or yeast. It's all open to whatever the wine maker wants and the labelling isn't really certified. It's all a load of hippie bollocks really, but I'm certainly interested in the idea of consuming a product that's real, alive and not full of chemicals.
The yeast normally comes off the skin of the grape, but it can come from anywhere (sweat from the grape picker's hands, the air, the wildlife, the equipment), as long as its not an inoculated yeast (cultivated yeast). Often bakers create a sourdough starter for their bread by using grapes in the starter batter, actually sourdough bread is a perfect analogy to use when describing natural wines which contain wild yeasts, as their characteristics bear a resemblance and they act in a similar manner during production. The wine will take on the taste of that yeast and really develop a unique flavour belonging to that vineyard, but when I say belonging, I mean 'on loan', as the following year those yeasty flavours will change, as in normal vineyard circumstances, the flavours of the grapes change, depending on the sunshine, the rainfall, the temperature of that particular year. But the yeast flavour goes far deeper than the other changeable influences. This yeast flavour is ingrained with a barbed hook and no wine blending is going to shift that.
I know wine does change, but I mean it really changes with natural wines, in an out of control fashion like this wagon I'm riding. And this is my point, it's exciting, it's inconsistent, it is a product that really comes from a particular region.
These wines have now started to come into fashion with London restaurants like Elliot's, Duck Soup, Brawn and Green Man & French Horn (anywhere connected to Ed Wilson & Oli Barker). Also events like the Natural Wine Fair, RAW and the Real Wine Fair have really taken off in the last couple years.
Vino di Anna Jeudi 15
Both white and reds are fantastic as natural wines, but the whites do tend to be more on the interesting side and can taste a bit like cider. The reds tend to taste like very high quality wines and seem to come without the attachment of a hangover (could be to do with the lack of sulphites). A few weeks ago I sampled an Italian Red by Anna Martens called Vino di Anna Jeudi 15 (pictured above). This wine had a very interesting nose, almost like it had absorbed the sulphurous gases emitted from Mount Etna, similar to the essence of a photographic dark room, but I love that smell. The taste was of quality, deep berry and a peppery back ground. Quite simply a very good wine.
Lard des Choix
Whist riding my wagon, other highlights along the road have been the Lard des Choix(Grenache)Blanc 2010, appley and would be great with fish and the Dard & Ribo Saint Joseph 2009 which was as good as it's price tag (£25). But my Voyage dans la lune has been the Bourgueil Cuvee Bon Heure 2011 (Below)and the 2010 version Bourgueil Cuvee Venus. This company has some amazing branding and display a French sense of humour that I've not seen before. I just love the way this wine works and how the producers have got the bollocks to make wine that is so different.
Bourgueil Cuvee Bon Heure 2012
If you can find some natural wine, then do try it, but remember it's not like normal wine and will be very different, you may not like the taste at first, it may give you the shits, it really must be drank with food (although you can get pissed on it) and it will cost a couple quid more than the usual wine. But it is special and it is in short supply, as it can never be mass produced for the mainstream and maybe that's why I love it so much, it feels like I have some ownership over the product and it's just for a select few who really appreciate it. A bit like a rare 7 inch vinyl record that has a limited run of 100 copies and will never be released on MP3 to download from iTunes, as this wine will never reach the supermarket shelves to be guzzled by the Gannets on a three for £10 special offer. Drinking this wine buys you a ticket to jump on my wine wagon and take a fabulous trip to the moon, whist looking down on all those cunts who are afraid to try something new. Well the Gannets can all fuck off and carry on swigging their JP. Chenet. More fuel for me on my road trip of life.