- Vegan, Organic, Biodynamic, Sustainable, Sulfite Free – So What’s the Deal With Natural Wine?
- Tarantas Sparkling Rosé
- biokult Grüner Veltliner
- Spartico NSA Tempranillo-Cabernet
- Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux Rouge
The Corkscrew Concierge takes an in-depth look at the definition of Natural Wine, featuring four of our most popular labels. Excerpts follow below, but please see the article in its entirety on the Corkscrew Concierge blog. All photos courtesy of The Corkscrew Concierge.
“Organic. Biodynamic. Sustainable. Vegan. No Sulfites. We’ve all heard these terms more times than we can count, but what do they mean when used in the context of wine? Many times the term ‘Natural Wine’ is used as an all encompassing descriptor. The last several years have seen a significant increase in consumer awareness when it comes to food. What’s in the food, where it comes from, how it’s produced, etc. are all common questions that many of us now ask. Locally sourced and organic foods are some of the fastest growing segments in the food industry. Sustainability is no longer a fringe idea but squarely in the mainstream. And while many consumers are more knowledgeable about their food, many have no clue what goes into their wine. Most people just figure there’s a basic way to make wine and if it tastes good, then all is right with the world. Well, not so fast.
There’s a whole lot of adulterated wine out there. But let’s also be clear that not all adulteration is bad. At least not in small doses. And maybe that’s not the word we should even use. Additives in wine include things like yeast, antioxidants (that would be you sulfur), tannins, acidifiers/de-acidifiers, clarifying agents, and stabilizers. Wine is volatile and inherently unstable and thus methods have been developed to stabilize it and prevent it from spoiling. Sometimes it doesn’t come out the way we want and is further “enhanced” with sugar or acid if local law allows. Whatever the method of “adulteration” or “enhancement” there are folks on both sides of the debate including those who want as close to a natural wine as they can get.
When you move away from these more “normal” additives and start seeing things like Mega Purple, which is a grape juice concentrate used to color correct wines – you know to make them that deep shade of red we love – then more folks seem to get concerned. In addition to adding color, the ultra-sweet concoction can add a hint of sweetness to wines and is also used to cover up those green bell-pepper tasting pyrazines. There are also things out there like aroma enhancers and ammonium salts and even water added to wine depending on the location.
Depending on who you are, you may have no issue with some of these practices. Or you may be OK with all of them. You may be OK with small amounts but don’t want winemakers to get carried away. However, if you are a consumer that wants very little in the way of the “extras” in wines, then more than ever there are so called natural wine options available on the market.
The folks at Natural Merchants have made great strides in trying to fill this niche and make consumers more aware of what goes (or doesn’t go) into wine. They are one of North America’s leading importers of organic and natural wines direct from family produced wineries around the world. Their entire portfolio is produced to vegan wine standards and many are Certified Vegan. Even better, many of their wines are sold at your local Whole Foods stores. So if you’re looking for non-adulterated, natural wine, the folks at Natural Merchants have what you’re looking for.”
Four Natural Wine Reviews by the Corkscrew Concierge
Tarantas Sparkling Rosé-First up was this lovely sparkler made with organic grapes from Spain’s Utiel-Requena region which is made of 100% Bobal. Utiel-Requena specializes in the Bobal grape, which is a red variety with thick skin that produces wines of intense color (thanks to a high level of anthocyanins)2 and flavor…In the glass, the wine showed a deep strawberry pink in the glass due to the intense color of the Bobal grape…Absolutely perfect for quaffing on hot day (so easy to drink) but could also pair with a number of foods including spicy Cajun or Asian fare, seafood, and grilled pork or chicken. We paired with grilled hot dogs and sausage while swimming in the pool.
biokult Grüner Veltliner – made from organic grapes and from a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard. The vineyard is located in eastern Austria, southeast of Vienna in the Niederösterreich region. Niederösterreich is Austria’s largest quality wine-growing region, and while a number of international and indigenous varieties are grown in the area, Grüner Veltliner reigns supreme.
In the glass, this one showed a pale lemon-green. It had a very fragrant nose with aromas of peach, apricot, pineapple, and some floral notes (blossoms maybe). The wine was vinified in stainless steel in a reductive style which preserves the fresh fruit aromas and explains the intense pronounced aromas. In the mouth, the wine was medium bodied and provided bracing acidity with tart key lime and pear along with a clean finish.
Spartico NSA Tempranillo-Cabernet-Unlike the two previous wines and the one below which are made with organically grown grapes, this wine is labeled as an ‘Organic Wine’ which means it also has no added sulfites. Scroll to the ‘Key Definitions’ section below to better understand the terms. Crafted of 50 % Tempranillo and 50 % Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine was made without the use of added sulfur dioxide (SO2).
Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux Rouge-These folks make some good wines! Using indigenous yeasts and crafted of organic grapes comprised of 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, this one offers a great QPR at its price point. As I mentioned in that Bordeaux primer, there are lots of great values to be had from Bordeaux outside of the classified Haut-Medoc chateaux. This is another such example.
Showing a deep garnet in the glass, the wine offered up flavors of dark cherry, black currant, smoke, and even some woodsy flavors. Approachable tannins and good acid. Just be sure to give it some time to open up. We had this on one of those no-cooking evenings with a meat and cheese board, but it would pair nicely with burgers, beef, and lamb.
Please read the full article on Natural Wines on the Corkscrew Concierge blog. All of these wines are made with 100% organically grown grapes are Vegan, and Non-GMO Project Verified. They can be found at retailers nationwide.