Quantcast
Latest Stories

Natural wine? Serve it to the tooth fairy, say sceptics

By

AP FILE PHOTO

BORDEAUX – Natural wine? Who could possibly object? But according to some experts, the unregulated use of the term ‘natural’ is misleading gullible consumers as well as polarizing the wine trade.

“These are all things that don’t exist – natural wines, the tooth fairy and Father Christmas,” says Robert Joseph, a wine trade veteran who is one of the most prominent naysayers.

Natural wine does not exist as a legal category in the European Union, despite flourishing movements in Italy or France, the two biggest producers in the 27-nation bloc.

“At present, the compound noun ‘vin naturel’ (natural wine) has no definition on the national level,” said Aubierge Mader, a spokeswoman for France’s fraud protection agency (DGCCRF).

Yet hundreds of wines today are advertised and sold as ‘natural’, appealing to consumers on a variety of levels.

“I think consumers also respond favourably to the image of ‘natural’ wines as being not just more authentic, healthy or artisanal but also being fun, easy-drinking and separate from the pretensions of the wine elites,” said David Lillie, owner of American retailer Chambers Street wines.

Alice Feiring, author and de facto spokeswoman for the natural wine movement, describes the loosely organized group’s manifesto as “nothing added, nothing taken away.”

Natural wine producers eschew synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, cultivated yeasts, corrections for acidity and sugar, fining and filtering.

Purists reject sulphur dioxide, widely used to control oxidation in the wine-making process. The wines range from pristine expressions of terroir to cloudy, smelly, off-color micro-bacterial disasters.

“Yes, they’re a bit crazy sometimes and their flavours can be a bit challenging, but they are the sorts of wines that I like to pop the cork and drink,” said Dr Jamie Goode, author of “Authentic Wine”.

“They’ve got personality.”

Nor, supporters add, is there confusion on the part of the consumer.

“In New York, the term is very well used and not at all confused,” said Arnold Waldstein, a New York business strategist. “It creates interest.”

But critics lambast the ‘naturalistas’ – as they are known, on two fronts.

First, the term ‘natural’ appears to undermine the integrity of wines not produced by naturalistas.

“It’s almost like by using the term natural, there is a subtle implication that the people who are not in this club, who are not making natural wine are somehow unnatural and that’s a shame,” admitted Goode.

“Even what we call industrial wine is still a pretty natural beverage.”

What really irks authorities and winegrowers, including conventional and organic producers, is that the term has no legal meaning, thus no accountability.

“It’s meaningless nonsense,” says one DGCCRF official. “Organic wine has a definition. Natural – we don’t know what that means, it’s too vague. It could mislead the consumer.”

In theory, anyone advertising their wine as ‘natural’ must be able to justify the term. But first, one must avoid confusion with existing wines which are legally entitled to use the term ‘natural’ – French fortified sweet wines (Vin Doux Naturel) for example.

On the French website www.vinsnaturels.fr, 15 natural wine fairs are listed between now and April 2013. Shops from Paris to Hong Kong to Copenhagen are listed as selling natural wine.

Last summer, Italian agricultural authorities descended upon Enoteca Bulzoni in Rome and fined owner Alessandro Bulzoni for selling ‘natural’ wine, which has no legal certification.

Undeterred, Bulzoni paid the fine and continues to sell natural wine.

But some retailers like Lillie, while fans of the high-quality producers, only half-jokingly referred to the products as “wines formerly known as natural.”

Winemakers are also rethinking how to speak to consumers without misleading them.

“All of the honest winemakers, trying to make a minimum intervention wine, we still don’t know what to call our wine,” said Zeynep Arca Salliel, partner in Arcadia vineyards, in Thrace, Turkey.

‘Low-manipulation’ and ‘light-handed’ wines are entering the lexicon.

“We call our style ‘light-handed winemaking’. We stay true to the grape,” said Salliel, who practices sustainable viticulture and uses gentle, gravity-led vinification.

Feiring regards more regulation as inevitable but remains opposed to the idea. “That will open the door to ‘industrial’ natural, just as the EU organic wine rules have opened the door to industrial organic wines,” she argues.

Goode echoes the theme. “People say we really need a strict definition of what natural wine is otherwise it’s meaningless,” he says.

“Well, I disagree. I think that if we define natural wine, it kind of goes against the spirit of this really exciting, emerging movement.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Lifestyle , Wine



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Santiago: Enrile, Lacson, Reyes plotting massive psywar operation
  • Poe, Cayetano to colleagues: Shun formalities, let’s hear Napoles’ tell-all ASAP
  • Name names, Lacson dared
  • 4.6-magnitude quake hits Surigao del Norte
  • Camilla’s brother dies of NYC head injury
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Entertainment

  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
    Marketplace