This is my view. We are staying with a young sommelier friend. He moved to Paris from Copenhagen and now works at one of the grand dames of the natural wine bistro scene, Chateaubriand. On the wall of his apartment in Oberkampf is an old chalkboard he was given by the guys at Verre Volé (67 Rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris) – one of the places where many wine people hung out a few years ago. Verre Volé also made an impact on me back in the early part of this decade: I remember turning up after they were closed so they gave me a few glasses and a bottle of Métras to sit by the Canal Saint-Martin while we waited for them to open again. “Natural wine only” lists are not a new phenomena. But what is happening in the new bistro scene in Paris (described as “bistronomie”) is not just about natural wine, but also about “natural food” and maybe, in the longer term, we may look back and see that it was even more than that – a coming together of a greater philosophy about the environment and …
“I have a great appetite for splendour, but at the same time very simple tastes,” says the Valentino quotation at the entrance of his recent exhibition Valentino: Master of Couture in London. The Roman fashion maestro could have also been talking about Italian wine. On the weekend of February 9-10, I was in Rome for the Vignaioli Naturali di Roma. It was not the normal natural wine tasting (if there is such a thing as a normal natural wine tasting).
This summer, one of my favourite nights was a pop-up dinner by Burnt Enz in London Fields with Alex Whyte and Damiano Fiamma of Tutto Wines.
The Entrance for Artists. As readers of this blog may know, the last thing I enjoy with a glass of wine is a list of rules. I’d much rather join the circus. Arriving in Paris a couple of weekends ago to see a few natural wine bars, I stayed in the very un-chic 20th arrondissement. Groups of homeless men lay in sleeping bags huddled together beside concrete road blocks showing political signs from Mélenchon’s Communist Party. It was a very crisp, cold weekend. Pamphleteers handed out how to vote slips for Francoise Hollande.
Three everyday olfactory workers were in the mood for something spikier. After a tasting that upheld the status quo in international Pinot Noir we wandered the back streets of Charing Cross like a trio of lost souls with crazed laughter and in the mood to push past Official Judgement. During the blind tasting I heard a few times, “I nailed it”, said with all the gusto of a funeral director. If you work on the coal face with customers, then it is hard to be zealous about natural wine, but pretty easy to be disillusioned by wine media, with this heady combination of funk and abandon we stumbled into Terroirs. We were in a funk. Time for something to mirror our mood.
I said fate plays a game without a score, and who needs fish if you’ve got caviar? …When I loved, I loved deeply. It wasn’t often. Josef Brodsky Was 2011 a good year for wine? When I look through my red moleskine notebook, I would say overall, yes – and there were certain trends. Here are my reflections on wine in 2011 featuring key wines that sum the year up for me. Natural Wine: 7 Rue de la Pompe, Mas Coutelou When I hear the word “should” I calmly pick up my bag, grab my coat, take off my heels, find the nearest exit and run for my life. Even if a Natural Wine is the nicest wine in the world, nothing irritates me more than to be told what I should or should not think (or drink). Despite being embraced by some parts of the industry, natural/organic/biodynamic wine still divides people. Natural wine is not a sommeliers friend (although it is loved by sommeliers) and it is here where you see ideology bang up against practicality.