One might say that minimalist wines or natural wines are going against the commercial trend of winemaking by a set recipe. However, the debate to define what is natural wine is pages long and I will certainly not enter it here. Often many of the better wines are made in a natural way without any references made anywhere. They are crafted without enzyme, cultured yeasts or any other additions of tannins or acid. They are often made in an organic way and are not fined or filtered, better reflecting the place they come from, as well as abiding by a philosophy that has more integrity and is more holistic than conventional viticulture.
For smaller producers it’s often about passion for where you are and what you love, rather than chasing the marketer’s impression about what should be made for a target market.
The danger in using the phrase 'natural wines' is that it is often used to describe wines made with little to no winemaking intervention, leading to an oxidative style that can be confronting. They are certainly becoming more prolific on wine lists in Melbourne’s trendy restaurants.
I am a bit weary of these wines as they shouldn’t take over sensory pleasure with a good ideological narrative! The enjoyment of the wine is paramount and will lead to a positive and pleasant experience. I am all for pushing boundaries and moving outside the box, as these are signs of an industry reaching a degree of maturity, however, just to keep the conversation grounded, as a friend of mine once said: "It’s not the herbicide, fungicide or any chemical addition that’s going to kill you, it’s the alcohol in the wine that will!"
Written by Christian Maier
March 22, 2017