Some people collect empty crisp packets, I collect throwaway remarks on twitter about wine.
It could have been 7 years ago, when an American blogger touring Beaujolais wineries tweeted something along these lines:
I’m surprised more natural wines are not fervent nationalists they way they talk about the land..
It could have been the febrile political times at the time, but it struck a nerve. Were natural wine not so Gaia-an as I liked to believe?
Natural winemakers do talk about expressing the terroir. This concept that annoyed the hell out of new world countries in the 2000s, has been embraced by winemakers today. For natural wine, terroir is an idea given helium and floats high above the landscape in the realm of ideas and philosophy.
But could all this take about the land turn rancid?
Terroir as nation. Terroir as nostalgia.
Is this where the right and left meet in wine: in the concept of terroir?
When I visited the restaurant Verre Vole in Paris, I remember they gave us a bottle of natural wine at lunch that mentioned all the people who picked the grapes on the back label. I hoped this was going to be a trend we’d see more. Alas, it didn’t come to be.
This is the idea of terroir that I do agree with natural wine.
Through natural wine we become aware how we are connected to the environment and the people we live. How wine has become an industrial product (in the past three to four generations). How the seasons show up in the vintage and tell us about what we are doing to our planet.
The art of listening. If we step back and listen, nature will express what it needs and re-balance and re-adjust (whether that is in the favour of humans or not).
When I sold natural wine, a customer said it sounds like these natural winemakers are lazy. Letting go and doing nothing all day and letting nature do all the work.
To me, it sounds idyllic. And it shows in the wine: there is a relaxed feeling to some of the fruit and a good wine will be generous with its flavours on the palate.
At least English wine has not become too patriotic. And I hope it continues.
But let’s get real: all wine is patriotic on some level, it’s just that UK has been a net importer over the centuries. Ask a Pays d’Oc producer about cheap Spanish wine coming across the border. (Or don’t if you want to have a pleasant meal.)
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Image: Glamour Daze