What We Look for In Good Natural Wine
Nothing stirs the wine industry pot like a conversation about natural wine. Here at Verve Wine, we deem ourselves to be big fans of the juice – however, knowing how to scope out the good from the not-so-great is key. This week, we’re letting you in on what good natural wine looks (and tastes) like to us. Read on, grab some of our top picks, and get ready for a delicious ride.
Delicious to Drink
We hold our natural wines to the same standards that we do every other bottle on our shelves. Above all, we believe that wine, whether natural or not, must first and foremost taste good. If the juice inside the bottle isn’t delicious, then what’s the point? With so much tasty wine in the world, there’s no reason to settle for anything less than great – and just because a wine is natural doesn’t automatically make it good!
(Note: When we say ‘good wine’ here, we mean technically correct. Preferences, opinions, and specific tasting notes on a given wine are subjective. We’ll break down the ‘technically correct’ bit in just a sec!)
Although the actual definition of natural wine remains a bit fluid, most enthusiasts will agree that at minimum, the wine must be produced from responsibly-farmed fruit. For most, this implies using organic (certified or practicing) methods, and oftentimes biodynamic principles too. The definition of ‘sustainably-farmed’ fruit is a bit looser, so many natural wine purists will argue that farming by these less strict methods doesn’t cut it to be dubbed natural. At Verve Wine, nearly every bottle in our natural wine collection is produced from organically-farmed fruit, and many are also made with biodynamic principles.
Curious what’s in our glass at the moment? A few of our favorite biodynamic producers include Alberto Nanclares, Chacra, and Enderle & Moll. Snag a few bottles, sip chilled, and taste these lively wines for yourself.
Free of Flaws
It goes without saying that for any wine to find its way onto our shelves, the juice must be technically correct (free of flaws). This means that the wine exhibits no excess volatile acidity, brettanomyces, ‘mousiness,’ or other common faults found in wine. Unfortunately, there are many natural wines out there that are laden with these flaws, though they’re frequently excused because the juice is ‘natural.’ Rest assured that when you shop with us, we’ve already done the hard work and have ensured that none of these issues are present in your wine. Good wine, natural or not, should never be faulty.
Take the Lapierres for example. Marcel’s children, Mathieu and Camille, use an extremely light hand in the cellar, meaning that not much is added or taken away. However, this ‘hands-off’ style of winemaking often requires even more meticulous attention to detail, as there’s even more room for things to go wrong (and less wiggle room for adjusting mistakes). These non-interventionist natural wines are as pure, terroir-driven, and fault-free as they get. Envinate’s bottles are also great examples of ‘minimalist’ wines that are totally faultless.
Sense of Place
To us, good wine reflects the place from which it comes – and natural wines are no exception. We believe that delicious wine should always show a sense of place, no matter which appellation it hails from, how it was farmed, or which grape varieties were used. For us, Yann Bertrand’s bottles are prime examples of terroir-reflective natural juice. These wines are delicious, easy-drinking, and above all, undeniably show a sense of Fleurie (Beaujolais) in the glass.
Balance Is Key
As always, balance remains a top priority when it comes to wine, natural or not. If the juice is too acidic, too tannic, overly oaked, too thin, or simply just tastes out of whack, then said bottle has no business being on our shelves (or in your glass!) For us, natural still means balanced.
With all of these things in mind, we’ve curated a special Natural Wine collection that highlights our favorite natural producers at the moment. We believe that these vignerons embody all of the above: the fruit is farmed right, the balance is there, and above all the, wine is really, really good. Check it out for yourself, grab some things that catch your eye, and get ready to dive into the world of good natural wine.