Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RAW: First report from the natural divide

John of  "Pheasant's Tears" talking to importer  
22.05.2012. It’s been an exhausting and exhilarating two weeks in London so far, and I’m getting properly beat. Today the second of the two natural wine fairs ended, effectively concluding three days of intense tasting and wonderful networking.

Well, it’s not quite over yet. I just got invited to join the organizers and some winemakers from The Real Wine Fair for dinner at Soif, which I’ve been looking to try since I love their “mothership” Terroir.

So, for a quick initial report on the fairs RAW and Real Wine Fair… It’s been great and positively overwhelming. Between the two of them there were almost 200 natural/organic/biodynamic winemakers from all over the globe. Mainly France, Italy, Spain but with a healthy dose of Georgian and Croatian as well as a Kiwi or two mixed in for good measure.

Isabelle Legeron, founder of RAW, with her friend and co-winemaker Eko
I have a few key thoughts. One is that there is no excuse for a faulty wine. Brett (the yeast that makes a wine smell like a bandaid or a barnyard), volatile acid (a vinegary taint) or unbalanced wines are bad wines, I don’t give a rats ass that they are “natural”. It seems staggeringly difficult to work a vineyard and a winery completely natural, and anyone who tries deserves a lot of credit for sheer guts and passionate energy. However, if you don’t get your wines stable, add sulfur, please. “A wine’s first duty is to be good.”
The second thought I’ve had is that there is some seriously quasi-religious voodoo out there. Energy shifts and the like. I can’t say it’s not true, I can’t say it is. Just please, reconsider before sharing this with the general consumer base or they will write you off as loonies. My tip, that’s all.

The "wine list" at the end party (Supra) of RAW

Third, and most importantly perhaps, is that these have been the two best large wine tastings I have attended. Sure, I got some help picking out the good ones, but there were really excellent wines here! The focus was not on over-extracted, overripe fat fruit-bombs in the “international style” but on delightfully personal wines, often with much character, minerality and fresh elegance. Unless disguised by that nasty brett (pet peeve, I know), these wines manage to show their place of origin more often than many other wines. So, I’m happy, inspired and have a desire to hit the road again to visit as many of these producers as I can.


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