Natural Wine Week   •   Comments »

During the week of August 24th through August 30th, nopa will be taking part in the first annual Natural Wine Week here in San Francisco. We will be featuring two California producers who we feel are adhering to the principals of natural wine making. (This is an officially undefined term, so one topic of discussion for the week will be: What is natural wine?) These producers will be in house to pour their wine and answer any questions one might have about the process. (The specific days of the guest appearances are still to be determined.) We will also be offering a number of natural wines from around the world by the glass and drawing attention to the many producers currently in our wine program who fall in line with natural wine making techniques.

Although I think most of the people participating in this first annual Natural Wine Week have a similar idea about the spirit of natural wine, there are disagreements about what is and what is not allowed in natural wine. I will try and summarize my thoughts on the subject so one might know what to expect when looking for natural wine at Nopa.

When I speak about natural wine, I am envisioning wine made with a gentle hand – wine made with the idea that the fruit has a voice and using chemicals or additives will make that voice more difficult to hear. It makes sense to me that the less you add to a vineyard or to the juice in the winery, the more honestly the fruit will carry the flavors of its time and place. But I also know human decision is part and parcel of time and place. The winemaker must make a number of decisions affecting flavor. It is impossible to remove human influence from terroir. So although I have ideas in my head about the importance of completely organic farming, spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast and the absence of any additives at all, I know better than to tie the hands of the artists with the dogma of the critic. Rather than trust in rules, I prefer to trust in people. Situations will arise that call for the breaking of rules, therefore I look for people who share a common vision – producers who are trying to make the purest, most honest wine possible from a specific site. I try to find people I can stand behind and believe in – not because they are certified in some way but because I have met them or read them or followed them and have come to believe they have integrity. Most of these producers will follow most of the 'rules' of natural wine most of the time, but what is more important to me is that they are following the spirit of the law when the letter of the law must give way. Equally important, of course, is the end product. The wine must have integrity and be pleasurable and/or interesting to drink.

Natural wine is a hot topic right now. I encourage you to get out to some of the events being hosted by the various sponsors of Natural Wine Week and find out why.

P.S. Anybody know where the picture is from?

9d3432ae35ad13c760e9e1c649e180a7-naturalwineweek_pdf.pdf (610k PDF file)

Posted August 11, 2009 • Filed under Wine,

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