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Natural Wines 09 Feb '19

Natural Wines

The World is in constant change and these changes are becoming faster. We have the World in the palm of our hands and are flooded with information every hour. It’s so much input that it becomes hard to know, evaluate and make choices. Maybe this the reason why we’re witnessing the rise of movements that defend what is less manipulated and more people seeking what’s purest.

In wine as in my winemaker’s career, this movement has become big enough to be a trend. And lately, the name “Natural Wines” comes in every corner, wine magazine or the touch of a finger.

My path in this career started in California, 20 harvests ago, when winemakers were trying to control all details in wine productions. There I learned that the secret for good winemaking, other than having the best grapes available, lies upon the control of the winemaking process with the best technology available. Well, it seems that some are become tired of so much control and intervention and wish to come back to what’s spontaneous, what is natural. This does not mean to return to “leave it in God’s hands”, but instead to return to the respect for nature and what nature brings (with our lead, of course).

 

By now, you’ve got a gist of what natural wines are, naturally…

 

Are wines where the nature acts; wines where, although made by man, the intervention is mínimal. In a utopian ideal, are wines that are born solely from grapes and nothing else enters or leaves the process; wines of only one ingredient: grapes.

But, what is the role of the winemaker? To control, seek perfection in modern winemaking and deliver consistency year after year to the consumer. It won’t ever be producing natural wines that will get it, as here it’s the terroir and the vintage that are in charge. In the case of natural wines, it’s the rule of anarchy.

It’s this anarchy that has been on the rise in certain market niches; wines made from organically grown grapes or even biodynamic, wines noted for its singularity but also for the flaws that minimal interventions won’t correct or control. The flaws that take the pleasure of drinking wine. An exaggerated bitterness, an excessive oxidation or another characteristic that takes away the best the wines has.

Here’s where my experience as a winemaker won’t let me stand still. Wine should taste good! It may not please every palate but it must never displease everyone. And in natural wines “let it happen” shouldn’t be a way, because we don’t know where it’ll end up. I agree with minimal intervention, as long as it doesn’t compromise what nature has given and Man produced, naturally.  

Hélder Cunha
The wine’s my life