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Dec 9, 2008 08:21 AM

"Natural Wines" [split from L.A. board]

I think Pam was talking about wines that have been manipulated in order to make them something that they otherwise would not be (the trend toward bigger, bolder, more powerful, higher-alcohol wines that has occurred over the past decade or more).

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  1. The notion of "natural" applied to wines is, say, peculiar.
    All wines are manipulated, one way or another. As far as I know, bottles do not grow on trees.
    Perhaps she meant organic?

    10 Replies
    1. re: RicRios

      Before I comment, could you please explain this:

      "All wines are manipulated, one way or another."

      Your broad generalization is terribly misleading.

      1. re: Grog

        "To treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner."

        Or as I just said it above: bottles do not grow on trees.

        The winery's hand is unavoidable in the production of wines.

        Am I saying something wrong?

        1. re: RicRios

          Yes, RicRios, you are saying something wrong. No one believes,--not even the most dyed in the wool terroirista--that bottles grow on trees. That's just a disingenuous straw man. The Merriam-Webster move, which you employ to give your point of view some cut and dry facticity, actually undermines it, if we're going to get all lexical about this. Take a look at MW’s definition 2b: "to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage." That's what natural wines aren't.

          If you're interested there's a load of information on the Web about the natural wine movement. I suggest using the phrase "Jules Chauvet" as your starting point.

          1. re: Plateau_de_fruits_de_mer

            Truth be told, I think it's the use of the word "natural" that is misleading. If one substitutes the word "biodynamic" for the word "natural," for example, then one has a legal basis, a legal definition, from which to make recommendations. Less well-defined is the term "organic," but that, too, gives one a place to start.

            From a legal standpoint, "natural" doesn't mean much . . .

            1. re: zin1953

              I'm not aware of any inorganic wines, myself ;)

              Is this term an attempt at rendering "vin de terroir" in English, maybe?

              1. re: tmso

                >>> Is this term an attempt at rendering "vin de terroir" in English, maybe? <<<

                Well, at least, not directly. In the food world, "natural" and "organic" are much more closely intertwined than in the wine world. And that's where I think the confusion may have initially arisen in the minds of some.

                HOWEVER, given Pam's original post on the LA Board ("Some of my favorite importers are Louis/Dressner, Jenny and Francois {World Wide Wines], Rosenthal, Polaner Selections and Becky Waserman"), I think that Pam's use of the word "natural" was more in line with what RicRios' was speaking about in terms of manipulation -- or rather, the lack thereof. These importers focus NOT on "organic" or "biodynamic" wines, per se, but on generally small producers who practice a minimum cellar treatment regime -- i.e.: they let the wine make itself, as much as possible. They MAY be biodynamic, for example, but the focus is on what's in the bottle, not on how the wine is made.

                (This differs from some other importers who actually do care more about how a wine was made; that is their #1 priority.)

            2. re: Plateau_de_fruits_de_mer

              Your reply to RickRios is better than any one I could muster up. Because I am ITB, I guess I become more worked up about misinformation. Bravo!!!


        2. re: RicRios

          I'd also recommend Kermit Lynch's wonderful book, Adventures on the Wine Route.

          Mr. Lynch does a much better job than I could ever do describing the nature of the wine industry and his quest for wines that express their true nature.

          1. re: mikester

            Thanks! As Cicero said, "Nulla sine lite dies".

            1. re: mikester

              The "nature of wine" is a VERY different concept than "natural wine."

          2. Ahh, the great spoofulation debate. Burn the spinning cones and oak chips!