Real Wine Month: Natural wines without a whiff of horse muck
PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 April 2016
Here we are, in the middle of Real Wine Month.
And tomorrow offers the opportunity to try wines unlike any you’ve ever experienced before.
Will you enjoy them? I hope so, and £20 is a small sum to pay to tour the world of individual, idiosyncratic, sometimes extraordinary products of the grape.
The occasion is the Real Wine Fair, where some 150 growers from winelands as diverse as Georgia and South Africa, Etna and Enfield will be pouring wines which have none of the hefty human intervention seen in so many big-brand bottles.
Real is a happier adjective than natural, a wine description which can evoke images of hairy men smelling of horse muck, proffering bottles whose contents exude strange aromas and taste even more peculiar.
That’s entirely unfair towards the vast majority of the natural wine fellowship, whose aim is to respect nature, minimise or eliminate chemical use, to allow grape and place to speak loudly and – most crucially – make wines which are a joy in the glass.
Those are the wines which this month at restaurant and retail events, and the fair itself, are all about.
Sunday’s gathering, at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, will be well worth the trip.
The wines apart, physical and mental hunger can be satisfied at artisan food stalls (including Androuet, Galvin and Ottolenghi) and three intriguing talks. There’s a shop on site (and online).
Advance tickets are £17, on the door £20 cash only. See therealwinefair.com., which also lists Real Wine Month tastings and dinners – there are several still to come in London.
One feature, or rather non-feature, of natural wines is their low sulphur content.
Sulphur occurs naturally in wine making, and acts as a disinfectant preventing contamination. For commercial safety, many winemakers add more.
If you sneeze when drinking wine, that’s a pretty good indication of sulphur overdose.
So the wines at the Real Wine Fair will have no, or hardly any, added sulphur.
That, too, is an increasing characteristic of wines sold year-round by Vintage Roots, currently deservedly celebrating 30 years of supplying organic, biodynamic and natural wines to green-minded UK drinkers.
Where to start the Real Wine Fair tasting?
Don’t miss the Georgians, with unique grape varieties and wines made in clay pots – qvevri – buried in the ground.
More conventional wines come from familiar regions – among high-flyers are Le Roc des Anges (Roussillon), Gravillas (Languedoc), Breton, Landron, Roches Neuves (all Loire), Vino di Anna (Sicily), Lapeyre (Jurançon), Vignerons d’Estezargues (Rhône).
These growers’ wines, and many more, are imported by the fair’s main organiser, Les Caves de Pyrene, whose 12-bottle taster case, three reds, three whites, is £160 including delivery (lescaves.co.uk).
Gems on the latest list at vintageroots.co.uk include The Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2013, New Zealand benchmark with layered, mineral purity (watch out for more Supernatural wines); Albet I Noya Nosodos sparkling Penedès, classy fruit, streets ahead of most cava, £17; Giol Pinot Grigio 2014, fresh, salty-dry, great summer wine, £8.20; two fine Languedoc reds, both £9.75: Les Domaines Paul Mas Cuvée Secret 2014, dark, tasty, fresh-finishing merlot-cabernet franc blend; Old School Minervois 2012-13, pure sweet syrah-grenache fruit from biodynamic enthusiast Bertie Eden.
Another natural diary date: the RAW wine fair, May 15-16, London E1. See rawfair.com.
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