🍇 Cabernet Franc & Pinot Gris 📍Gippsland, Victoria 🇦🇺
Without a doubt my all time favourite natural wine, as of right now anyway.
I managed to first get my hands on a bottle of Pat’s Rain during my short stay in Australia a couple years back and it was this bottle alongside one or two others that set the tone for my life and career in the natural wine industry!
Hectic peachy aromas, pale garnet colour, SUPER bright and juicy. This is a red and white wine blend, paired with a 14” ‘DO YOU RONI?’ pie from the very talented team over at @nellspizza in Chorlton.
Is it even a Friday night without takeaway pizza and natty wine??🤔
Have you ever been introduced to something completely alien to you, something you’ve never heard of before that’s swept you off your feet in a whirlwind of emotions and feelings? Maybe it was the first time you heard of and bought a certain clothing brand that fits your body size like a glove. It could have been that exact moment when you heard the whining, melodic sound of Oasis as a band for the very first time. Either way, there’s one thing we can all agree on and that is how big of an impact those moment’s have had on us throughout our lives.
Similar to your life changing moments, I’ve had quite a few myself.
One of my biggest life changing moments happened four years ago, when I was first introduced to the mysterious, yet intriguing natural wine movement. It was a typical dark, cold and windy night in one of the most southern parts of Manchester here in the UK; I hadn’t even turned twenty years old yet, so it’s safe to say I was at an age where a life changing moment was well-needed.
Here’s how it went down…
A close friend of mine who was local to the small town I was living in at the time came around to my house-shared apartment to join me watching the Champions League football on TV, a midweek European football fan tradition that goes back decades! Anyway, he pulls out this pale-coloured bottle of red wine from his rucksack and insists it goes to chill in the fridge for half an hour whilst he explained what the hell was going on…
“Red wine? We don’t drink red wine, c’mon man.”
“It HAS to go in the fridge?? Are you feeling alright?”
They are just a couple of the many questions that started aggressively piling on to the traffic jam of questions and queries in my mind.
So he sits me down, and explains that the wine he has brought isn’t just any ol’ bottle of red wine; “it’s a ‘natural wine’ called Thirst made from ‘Gamay’ grapes that are grown on vines in Stellenbosch, the Western Cape province of South Africa”.
(I know, quite fancy and sophisticated for a couple of young guys watching football.)
I nod my head in agreement as if I know exactly what he’s going on about, although truth be told I had no clue what good quality wine was at the time and certainly hadn’t got a notion of what a naturally made wine was. But as I mentioned before, I was intrigued and overwhelmingly curious so I took the bottle of wine out of the fridge myself, screwed the cap off, and lined up two wine glasses to get tasting this fruit-punch-looking beauty.
Now to be honest with you, we barely did any extra research on that bottle of Thirst at all, something I would never think of doing even before purchasing a bottle of natural wine in the present day. My friend and I simply read the label on the back of the bottle, slammed it in the fridge for what seemed like the longest half an hour I’ve ever experienced and then cracked it open.
The feelings and thoughts that followed after our first few mouthfuls of the South African natural red wine were relatable to that kind of moment when you first try freshly squeezed apple juice over ice on a hot Summer’s day.
A refreshingly cold, entirely fruit-focused beverage quenching your thirst with every last sip; only this beverage had a pleasant, thought-provoking alcoholic after taste. So as you can imagine, we were sold on all things natural wine related from that exact moment onward. It was on that dark, windy, cold Tuesday night in Manchester that I experienced natural wine for the very first time, that was the moment natural wine changed my life.
Collaboration and surprise, that’s what this world is made of and if Beaujolais-based Jules Chauvet the natural wine don, met New York City-based fictional mafioso Don Vito Corleone, that would be the exact quote I’d pull out of their legendary conversation.
Who Was Jules Chauvet?
So, Jules Chauvet, who is this guy in the same sentence as the one and only Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather?
Jules throughout his life was a maker of wine, a seller of wine, and according to many accounts from his generation one of the most profound tasters of wine France had to offer. But most importantly, Jules was the first vigneron to argue for naturalness in wine from a position of scientific expertise and immense practical experience. As a major advocate of scientific research and technical science behind grape growing/winemaking – oenology was his field of expertise.
Born in the year 1907, Jules took over the family business quite early in his life (late 1920s) as his father passed away rather young.
Chauvet was a fourth generation winemaker from a winemaking family in the eastern French town of La Chapelle-de-Guinchay in Beaujolais, a renowned winemaking region for producing some of the best Beaujolais wines in the world made from the Gamay grape variety.
Jules Chauvet dedicated his life to making some of the worlds finest wines ever made, even former French president General De Gaulle considered Jules’ wines to be the perfect example of a light, fragrant Beaujolais.
Above all of his quirky interests and savvy wine making skills, what Jules championed himself on most of all was his love for nature’s beauty and complexity. He studied nature in order to know how to work with her rather than against her, and this is where his principles for practice’ in the vineyard were established – chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides were to be forbidden.
Jules Chauvet’s empathetic choice to study nature thoroughly, resulted in his calm conclusion to argue for nothing short of naturalness in wine.
That’s right, natural wine isn’t a hipster trend that was started on the west coast of America in California like most current trends. The natural wine you and I drink today is a result of the foundations this legendary, humble winemaker from Beaujolais set out for us nearly one hundred years ago!
His Work Throughout the Years
Jules’ curiosity with science led him down many different roads of discovery throughout his life. From a young age he began a correspondence with Nobel Peace Prize winning physiologist Otto Warburg who shortly after went on to be very close friends together. This friendship seems to have inspired Jules from a scientific perspective and may have even spurred him on to practice his initial malolactic fermentation and carbonic maceration experiments.
The process of malolactic fermentation(MIF) and carbonic maceration are two huge components in today’s winemaking world. A wine that has gone through MIF is notably smoother with a creamy or oily textured mid-palette, most red wines as well as white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier undergo this process especially if they’re made naturally.
Carbonic maceration on the other hand is a different fermentation process that winemakers can opt for if they want to produce a lighter red or amber wine. It’s done by whole clusters or bunches of grapes (stems and pips included) fermenting amongst each other in an enclosed, carbon dioxide-rich, warm environment. Only 3% of alcohol is produced through this method, so after five to fifteen days the grapes then go in for a second yeast-focused fermentation to make the good stuff.
There’s just no denying that Jules Chauvet’s experiments and principles have had a colossal impact on the essence of natural winemaking.
Jules Chauvet’s Legacy
You might be wondering how one could achieve such a prestigious title – ‘One of France’s most profound tasters of wine’, it’s impressive right?
Well, as you may have gathered by now, Jules was an aficionado of wine dedicating every last detail of his life to the matter of wine. And to achieve such a title, it didn’t just come knocking on his cellar door, or even by drinking copious amounts of the world’s finest wine. He purposely spent time every year in the perfume capital of France in Grasse. Jules went and worked with some of the top parfumeurs of the time in France just to improve his nose for tasting and analysing wine.
What Chauvet learned over the years in Grasse was that it is simply not good enough for any taster of wine to resolve to the broad descriptive words such as ‘fruity’ or ‘floral’, the taster needs to know exactly which fruit or flower they have detected!
Towards the end of Jules’ career, in 1981 he came across a young winemaker in his home region of Beaujolais named Marcel Lapierre, who at that time was ten years into the business of making wine after taking over the operation from his father back in 1973. Chauvet decided to mentor Marcel alongside Marcel’s vigneron friend – Jacques Neauport, through the many ways of producing world class wines, and it was these three Beaujolais locals who went on to pre-figure many of today’s ideas about natural wine.
Marcel and Jacques were two of the gang of four, later five who worked completely naturally in Beaujolais – their work caused wine drinkers across the world to sit up and take notice. Fast-forward 40 years and it takes us to the year 2021, where the natural wine movement is no longer a rogue group of five young Beaujolais winemakers going against the grain. The natural wine movement has grown into a uniquely integral part of the wine industry with it’s much younger fan base, traditional 100-point scoring system haters, who simply just want to enjoy the finer things in life such as greatly made wine with no shite added to it.
Wines of minimal human-intervention background, with nothing added to or taken away from including orange wines, pet-nats and chillable red wine
Photos & words by Natural Swill’s low-intervention wine expert – Eoghan Neburagho
Costadila Vini, ‘280 slm’ — Veneto, Italy
With Glera, Verdiso and Bianchetta grapes which are all indigenous to the region as well as the 25 day maceration on the skins makes the mouth feel creamy and full of tannins! The ‘280 slm’ is orange and fizzy, perfect for celebratory times.
There are no additions in the slightest to the ‘280’ slm and it has a mouth-watering lengthy finish.
Partida Creus, ‘Brutal BB’ — Catalonia, Catalan
This is a certified party starter, trust me, I literally know from experience. The ‘Brutal BB’ by Partida Creus is made from Bobal grapes which are the third highest cultivated grape in Spain, so there’s no denying it’s a fan favourite. What Partida Creus have done with the Bobal grapes in this cuvee is bring it to a whole new level, with a mouthwatering dry fruits-fizz to it. For me, this wine tastes like someone peeled an orange off its skins and mixed them skins in a glass of freshly poured, homemade strawberry-sherbet lemonade!
Anders Fredrick Steen, ‘La Femme a qui?’ — Ardèche, France
Anders is a retired sommelier from Denmark who gave it all up to go and make natural wine in the southeast of France. A rogue non-traditional winemaker, so you can’t be too surprised when you realise this Pet-Nat was co-fermented with apples! Once the picked Merlot and Cabernet grapes are ready to start fermenting @andersfrederiksteen adds harvested apples to the fermentation and that’s where things start to get super interesting!With a rosey peach appearance this hybrid sparkling wine is a fine blend between a rosé and a cider.
Domaine Durrmann, ‘Eden Edel (Zwicker)’ — Alsace, Franc
Anna and Andre Durrmann have been producing some of my favourite wines of 2020, their low-key, terroir-rich wines are suitable for any kind of situation and that goes the same for the ‘Eden Edel (Zwicker)’. This pet-nat is made from Sylvaner and Gewurztraminer grapes and is super fruit focused on the aroma and initial taste, almost like a mildly sour apple juice. As the wine grows it becomes more and more sophisticated in body, with a toned down acidic finish to follow. You can’t go wrong with this bottle of wine considering it’s also a 1 litre bottle!
Les Foulards Rouges, ‘Octobre’ — Languedoc, France
The grapes are 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache in the ‘Octobre’. It has so much integrity with every last mouthful, the aromas of sweet cherries and raspberries blew me away if I’m honest, so fragrant! It makes total sense that this wine comes from the Vin De France appellation as the grapes are bottled straight from harvest with no ageing whatsoever, every last drop packing a delightful punch. The ‘Octobre’ was also the last bottle of wine I drank at a restaurant in March before everything closed down due to COVID-19 so it’s safe to say I have a special bond with this particular bottle.
Bronson/Bouju/Clovis, ‘A La Natural’ — Auvergne, France
Considering Action Bronson was one of my first influences for natural wine a few years ago through his hit show Fuck That’s Delicious on ViceTV, it was a special experience to try a wine made by the Bronsolini man himself. Needless to mention, Patrick Bouju probably did all the hard work, so it’s an even bigger honour to drink such beautiful natural wine from a legendary winemaker like himself. Quite the gentle nose to the ‘A La Natural’. Light coloured red complexion which is just stunning! To taste there’s a very pleasant mineral feel, not too acidic, almost like a toned-down cranberry juice. Goes down a proper treat, tannin profile is present but not overbearing at all, this is an extremely harmonious wine with each element working perfectly together & a lengthy finish!!
Lammidia, ‘Montepulciano 10’ — Abruzzo, Italy
Montepulciano is a dark red grape variety native to Italy used most often in the Adriatic coastal region of Abruzzo where Lammidia is situated. The flavours of rich plums and wild berries are insanely concentrated and in your face which the volatile acidity (surprisingly) balances out very nicely. What felt like an ever-lasting grippy, pleasant aftertaste also showed signs of a well-structured very proper bottle of wine. This was a swaggy, complex, yet very sophisticated low-intervention wine that surprised everyone at the table with its mature, approachable personality. Not sure when you’ll see this vintage on the market so when you do, act QUICK as there will be a very scarce amount available!
Alex & Maria Koppitsch, ‘Rozsa’ — Burgenland, Austria
A pure glou glou(chuggable), juicy rosé made from some of Austria’s favourite red-skinned grapes — Blaufränkisch, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Syrah, and Zweigelt! Very approachable at just 11% abv, almost too easy to drink… Especially enjoyed on sunny days in your (safe and distant) yard/garden. Designed without complications or the help from any chemical substances. Alex and Maria Koppitsch never fail to impress with their fun, juicy cuvees. This isn’t your typical bottle of wine to crack open around the Christmas dinner table , although it could be enjoyed anywhere in any season down to it’s simplicity.
Lammidia, ‘Rosato’ — Abruzzo, Italy
Often quoted as the two guys who produce fruit juice for adults, you can guess how this Rose was tasting right? Also only 10% abv so you know they produced this vino to be drunk young. Made from the region’s favoured dark skin grape, the montepulciano, the Rosato is quite tangy and minerally. Davide and Marco love their wines to be nicely acidic, which the rosato is! It’s aromas are pronounced and send reminders of freshly picked raspberries. I have no doubt you’ll polish this off in less than an hour with friends, or not…
Sebastien Riffault, ‘Sancerre 09’ — Sancerre, France
The Sancerre from Sebastian Riffault is so impressive it just defies all odds against your typical Sauvignon Blancs! Should we expect anything less from the certified #natural wine don? There’s a misty, honey-inspired lemon juice appearance to the ’09 Sancerre that has a distinctive overripe fruity smell, almost like a stewed apple vibe… Not too intense but just right! With quite a few angles to the taste profile, it’s not your typical Sauvignon Blanc mouthfeel — a citrusy ripe honey taste, quite minerally and loads of aftertaste of crisp tree fruits which is complex and very long-lasting in the mouth. This is a very well structured, unique Sauvignon Blanc that has aged with nothing but grace from Sebastian Riffault!!
Can winemakers be as transparent with their harvest workers as they are with their wines?
Photos & Words by Eoghan Neburagho
After experiencing one of the craziest years this earth has ever doused upon us, we are now finally on the wind down of 2020…thank f*c@!
A significant sigh of relief is most suitable right now as we ride it out, and I don’t know about you, but I’m only delighted to see the back of this year.
Many industries and nations took severe damage in 2020 due to COVID-19, millions of people lost their jobs, America took a rewind back to the 1930’s regarding racial and social injustices, and Chadwick Boseman aka ‘The Black Panther’ passed away after silently fighting a long, painful battle with terminal cancer.
In short…2020 has been shit!
Unfortunately the wine industry did not make it through 2020 unscathed either — this summer just gone, media reports came out of Italy regarding natural winemaker from Puglia, Valentina Passalaqua and more importantly her father — Settimio Passalacqua who was placed under house arrest by Italy’s national police, the carabinieri. Settimo who works as a marble and agriculture magnate was accused of systematic and illegal exploitation of migrant workers in his produce operation.
Valentina’s winery and vineyard are not directly linked to her fathers operations and she has not been found guilty of the same wrongdoings as her father by the courts, but since the court case has happened, the majority of Valentina’s supporters and importers including her major importers in the U.S — Jenny & Francois Selections and Zev Rovine Selections have turned on her as an account of guilty by association.
“There’s land that her father owns that her vines are planted on, and even if the labour she used was paid fairly, if she’s using that land she’s profiting from the exploitation of labour”
Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & Francois Selections
To date, many questions surrounding Settimo’s case have been left unanswered publicly, such as;
Has Valentina benefited in any way, shape or form from her fathers exploitation of migrant workers?
Was Valentina working separately from her father?
And as honourable members of the natural wine community, it’s time for us to start re-examining our responsibilities and business practices, starting with the labour force who work in the vineyard.
Labour Practices In Question
As an industry we let this one slip away, we idolise the wrong components of the natural wine movement and failed to focus on what really matters — vineyard worker’s basic human rights. And it’s an incredibly important topic that I am proud to be a part of, but there’s no doubt in my mind we as a community should have had this conversation a lot sooner.
We can only hold our hands up in guilt.
More questions from natural wine circles across all platforms, from producers to the fanatics need to be asked regarding labour practices in the vineyard, for example;
“Is this fruit farmed respectfully and ethically?”
“Does this winemaker pay her/his labour force properly and are the labour force, migrant or not, provided with facilities that align with basic human rights?”
On a recent podcast by MYSA discussing this exact topic, a number of natural wine advocates including Eric Moorer of Domestique wine back up my point precisely –
“Nobody was really asking about labour practices, nobody was really going and checking on their producers and seeing what was happening, seeing who was working these long hours and they weren’t seeing the conditions they were done in.”
Transparency about labour practice in the vineyard should be easily accessible in today’s internet-based, connected world for winemakers in both new world and old world regions. For winemakers to ignore this, it almost seems contradictory to how they practice making wine every single day, especially if they’re producing biodynamic or natural wines.
Having a migrant or local labour force to help out during harvest season, pruning season or for just general work around the winery is not an issue, especially if they are keen to get involved with the wine making process for educational purposes, but one thing must be clear,
They should be paid respectfully and properly.
Because migrant agricultural workers play an unrecognised major part in the production of wine across the world, and they depend on their employers to provide them with basic benefits and proper working conditions.
It is our job as avid natural wine drinkers and supporters to pay closer attention to where and how our wine is getting to us. We have to use Valentina Passalacqua’s case as a prime example of how these wrongdoings of negligence in the vineyard can occur right in front of our faces if and when we get too comfortable with the status quo.
It’s Time To Recognise Vineyard Workers
A recent solution suggested by Rachel Signer, author of Pipette Magazine and producer of Persphone wines, is for winemakers and importers to be more transparent about who exactly is doing the work in their vineyard and to give more props or a face to those people through social media or even better, on their websites.
“What I think there should be more of is transparency about labour being just as accessible as transparency about farming and sulphur…I do think there’s so many ways for producers and importers to become transparent about who’s doing the work.”
This is a great option (which I am in major favour of) for importers of wines and winemakers/producers to take because of its simplicity and cost effectiveness;
Over three billion people out of seven billion on the planet have smartphones according to statista.com, so the excuse of not being able to post pictures of your workers is invalid.
All it takes is a quick picture upload onto Instagram, or a video onto their website of each vineyard worker, with a brief fifty word bio explaining who they are and what they do on the vineyard i.e grape picking, general labour around the cellar etc.
For a producer to make an honest attempt at showcasing the team that helps make their final product is extremely gratifying for all parties involved. It’s nice to know who was involved with the agricultural work behind a bottle of wine simply by scrolling past an inspiring/creative post on Instagram or Twitter of a happy faced vineyard worker, in the midst of harvest season, standing proudly amongst some biodynamic, wild-looking vines!
For an industry that champions itself on honesty from the ground up, being transparent about the labour force who work with the agriculture is a must and shouldn’t even be up for debate, we need to do better on that front.
How To Help, From a Drinker’s Perspective
There are many ways the average Joe Soap like you and I can help so that this kind of situation never happens again, as mentioned above, I am in major favour of Rachel Signer’s suggestion on requiring producers and importers to be much more active and transparent about their labour force through their websites and social media presence.
Another option would be for some sort of natural wine board or committee to come together, similar to the one Jacques Carroget, a Loire Valley winemaker successfully set up when trying to create a certification for natural wine in France. What that board could then do is come up with some industry-level, must-be-acknowledged guidelines and standards on how to properly treat migrant agricultural workers on the vineyard and how to pay them correctly.
As I reflect both on the Valentina Passalacqua case and this article one thing has become clear, something needs to be done about our blind spots in the world of natural wine, and a major blind spot is labour practice and how they’re treated in the vineyard.
When you look at the problem in hindsight and really delve into the timing of it on a global scale, we were at breaking point. Valentina’s case came to surface just on the back of the horror at George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis at the start of the Summer. So it’s safe to say tensions were high, and people were feeling confrontational, to say the least.
Maybe the public reacted just a tad bit overboard when it came to Valentina’s situation based on the timing of it, I mean would it have even gone noticed back in 2018?? I’m not too sure on that one, but I do know one thing, we as a community in the world of natural wine have got to be a lot more vigilant when it comes to how transparent our winemakers are regarding their labour force. We have to ask more questions, not settle for an unsure answer, and demand justice wherever we can.
Whether you like it or not, Christmas is just around the corner and that means one thing – it’s time to buy your wine online ASAP.
On Christmas Day especially, you want a bottle of wine that will not only deliver on satisfaction levels but one that pleases the crowd at your dinner table, much like that preciously plucked turkey your looking at buying too!
Now consider what’s going to be on your festively decorated table…the Christmas standards – roasted meats and hearty, well-seasoned veggies like carrots, parsnips and potatoes just to name a few.
You’re going to need the right bottle of natural wine to match up with these heavy dishes.
Something that’s got a bit of oomph to it’s body, something that will work well with all that seasonal winter veg.
Medium bodied grapes like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Pinot Gris are my ideal varieties to have around your Christmas dinner table and here’s why ;
This is a blue-skinned grape variety that packs a light fruity, flavoursome punch. Whether it’s Christmas dinners or Summer BBQ’s, a glass of Pinot Noir pairs well with all types of food.
Pinot Noir is a diverse grape type that can grow in various weather conditions, from the sunny hills in South Australia to the wet vineyards here in the UK.
Bottom line, you will not fail to impress your guests with a bottle of natural Pinot Noir on Christmas Day.
A much better alternative to sit next to your Christmas dinner as opposed to it’s Italian brother – Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Gris is the end result of winemakers leaving their ‘Pinot Grigio’ grapes on vine for longer than usual allowing the grapes to get much riper which effects the sugar levels, the taste and appearance of the wine, which can sometimes resemble a bronze looking Zinfandel you might find in California.
All of these factors including a minimal intervention lifestyle in the cellar combine together to create a somewhat creamy Pinot Gris that has a fuller-body.
This is a white wine that will pair outstandingly with any dish on your dinner table this Christmas.
Merlot is one of the worlds most favoured red wines simply down to its adaptability to grow in all types of winemaking regions. It’s dry, super fruit-focused, medium to fuller bodied and pairs with just about everything.
(except chocolate, wine does not pair with chocolate).
Merlot can be made in a range of different styles and prices making it a true wine for the people.
You want a wine this Christmas that’s light and sharp? Merlot from Columbia Valley in the U.S can do that. You want a wine that’s smooth and textured for the dinner table this year? Most French Merlot’s can fill that void for you!
Like I said, Merlot is a wine for the people of all palette types and you’d be foolish not to have it on your shelf this Christmas.
Enjoy Your Christmas With The Right Wine
These grape varieties are a must for you this Christmas for many reasons, Pinot Noir for its flavoursome, fruity profile. The Pinot Gris has to be on the table if you’re going to have a white wine that doesn’t taste like freshly squeezed lemon juice, got to be the Pinot Gris, it’s just so much more interesting than the rest. And the Merlot down to its diverse background, accessibility and crowd pleasing features.
If all three grape types listed here today do not resonate with you as a wine drinker, please get in contact with me and express your desires.
You should order natural wine through delivery this year because it’s an easy, efficient way to have good wine by your side for Christmas.
Just to top of the craziest year you have ever experienced, it’s Christmas in just a few weeks!
I know, I know, it feels like you were walking through the sunny park, on your daily bit of exercise in the first lockdown back in March and April only yesterday…time flies when your living amongst a global pandemic.
Hopefully, you’re not stressing out about what mince pies to get for the Christmas dinner or whether you should put up that God forsaken tree just yet, they can wait.
What’s important right now is the fact that your wine shelf is looking deflated, at best right now. And regardless, whether it’s your whole family coming over or it’s just you and your cat for the holidays this year — a fresh delivery of wine is crucial for the holiday season this year.
Here are five different ways you can get natural wine delivered to your house for this Christmas;
Preorder at Your Local Shop
Go to your local natural wine shop and pre-order exactly which bottles you’d like to sip on over the holiday period. The best part about this step is that you can get advice from the shop owner themselves on what to try and maybe what not to (if they’re at work that day).
Especially if you are a regular and you’re unsure what to get, the chances are, the shop attendant will know what you like and if not, they’ll find you something quite close to your desired taste.
So in this situation, it would be a simple case of going to your local natural wine shop, picking what and how many wines you’d like, and then placing that order with whoever is working in the shop that day.
Delivery shouldn’t be an issue nowadays since COVID-19 happened. Majority of independent food and wine shops have brought in to action a delivery system so they can reach out to all existing customers through delivery no matter what their postcode is.
Reach Out to Your Local Supplier on Social Media
Getting in touch with your desired wine supplier has never been easier in today’s inter-connected world – there’s WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram DMs, Tweets etc.
If you’re quite particular and already have the exact bottle(s) of wine in mind that you’d like over the holidays, reach out to your favourite supplier online and enquire whether they have the wines your thinking of in stock.
This may not be your supplier’s favourite method of communication regarding wine delivery, but it’s the next best option you have (if for example, you can’t leave the house for COVID-related reasons).
This is a nice option to have as it’s a direct way of contacting them if you were looking to find out more specific details on the wines you want to have this Christmas i.e Are they in stock? Could they hold a few on the side for you? What vintage is best for drinking this year? etc.
Once you’ve done your enquiring and research, you can then ask your supplier (through one of the social media platforms listed above) to include those chosen wines of yours on the December delivery and then settle up with a payment!
Monthly Natural Wine Subscription
Signing up to a monthly subscription for natural wine is nothing short of fun and exciting.
Most businesses that do them have a payment cut-off point on the 7th of that month with delivery arriving 5–7 days later. The standard offering is 3–12 bottles in a case, but if you ever wanted more than that I’m sure they would have no problem catering to your desires.
But it’s not all fun and games, some places have specific wines and wineries they want to shift off their shelves for whatever reasons so they might not be the kinda wines you’re into.
So before signing up to one of these subscriptions I would highly suggest you do your research on the shop or supplier you’re about to commit spending £50+ a month with.
Finding out details like what style and quality wines they usually stock will make a huge difference for you as the drinker because you’ll have an accurate idea based of their reputation on what to expect.
Straight From Their Website
By far the easiest and most straightforward way to get natural wine online delivered to your house is from your wine shop of choice’ website. It’s as simple as going online to their website and heading straight to the ‘shop’ section where you will find every bottle of natural wine they have to offer.
You’ve shopped online before so I won’t baby feed you the rest of the steps on this one, it’s a piece of cake!
What I like most about buying wine from a shop or suppliers website is that they usually include a search bar at the top of their home screen where you can input any keyword related to what you’d like and the search results, similarly to a shop attendant or owner, will guide you along a path of tastes, regions and varieties best suited to your search as possible.
The search bar section will make your research so much easier and quicker, I’d highly recommend putting it into use.
Instagram has become a true part of our everyday lives, it’s a groundbreaking technological platform where you can chat with friends, followers or even celebrities in three different forms of communication; text, audio and video.
Instagram bring out new features all the time in correlation to making our lives easier and the latest feature they’ve introduced is the shop icon at the bottom of your IG home screen.
Once you click on that icon it brings you to the Instagram shop where you can search for whatever type of wine you like from Californian Zinfandel to Red Pét-Nats from the South of Italy.
Your search results will provide you with pictures and shops local to your location that stock the type of wine you’re looking for. What you have to do next is tap on the posted picture of the wine you want, and it should direct you straight to the sellers website and Bob’s your uncle!
I’m sure you know the shopping situation approaching Christmas by now, it tends to be the same every year – November flies by like the speed of light, you’re telling yourself “I’ll get them presents next week, it will be fine. Christmas isn’t for another 3 weeks!”.
All of a sudden, it’s December 18th, you’re present-less and more importantly wine-less…and that just can’t afford to happen this year, not 2020, we wanna end this year on some sort I high right?
So act quickly, refer to this article, and start buying your wine ASAP before your local supplier runs out of that German 2017 Pinot Noir you’ve had your eye on for the last two months!
Drinking natural wine is a cleaner, more ethical alternative to any other wine on the market.
It isn’t everywhere just yet, but you can feel and blatantly see it’s ready to rise into vogue. Natural wine, in short, is a wine made from organic, hand-picked grapes. It’s a wine that has nothing added to it and nothing is taken away from it in the winemaking procedure. That means minimal human intervention, no help from chemicals or additives and no stripping the wine of its integrity by mass filtration or fining.
It’s a raw, living product.
Natural wine is a healthier option made by just grapes, a humble winemaker, an ageing vessel, and of course, a few hundred glass bottles for it to live in.
Yes, it might be more expensive than your typical bottle of wine price. However, opting for a more expensive bottle of natural wine is nothing less than ethical and responsible. You’re choosing to help fund the livelihood of an independent winemaker, a small shop owner and better yet, you’re drinking a naturally made wine that’s healthier for your body and the planet.
Here’s Why You Should Drink Natural Wine
The Health Benefits
Let’s start with the basics – grapes contain certain antioxidants (especially red grapes) called polyphenols, grapes make these polyphenols to protect against harsh growing conditions such as frost, bacteria and fungi in the vineyard.
When you consume wine, those polyphenols help protect your body similarly, they fight radicals from stressing out your cells.
Wines without additives or chemicals like natural wine boast a large number of polyphenols because they are not filtered in the winemaking process. Natural wine is a living product which also means it has a large variety of probiotics and precious bacteria which can protect your gut from pathogens, which decrease inflammation.
According to a 2007 study out of Finland, wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirit drinkers.
Because Conventional Wine is Bad For You and Our Planet
Conventional wine is the exact opposite of natural wine, it’s defined by technical intervention.
From the vineyard to the cellar, there’s an intervention in the form of lab-grown yeasts, herbicides and pesticides. Each chemical the producer decides to put on or in their wine/vines damages the earth’s soil with long-lasting effects, we’ve been put on this planet to enjoy and protect it, not push it to its absolute limit before self-destruction.
Conventional winemakers add sugar during the winemaking process to create the perception of body. Most conventional wine is also filtered or ‘clarified’ through egg white and isinglass made from fish bladders, which is far from vegetarian or vegan and is poorly labelled if even, on most bottles for sale in shops.
“A lot of wine is a grape product, plus all these millions of additives to create a product that is reliably the same every year” Jenny Francois
Natural Wine Works WITH The Planet
Cheap, mass-produced wine come from winery’s that have mimicked farming practices from industrial agriculture, where they use synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and various other chemicals within the vineyard. This is not just incredibly harmful to the planet’s soil, but to the planet itself.
And yes, natural wine has its flaws with regards to the well-being of the planet; it travels long distances, sits in refrigerated ships and containers, but these logistical adversities are the only true downfall of natural wine. They are taken because they’re the only logistical options available right now.
There’s no magic wand we can wave to get goods from one place to another without sitting in a ship or truck – not yet anyway. Amy Antwood, LA Natural Wine Importer
Natural wines are made from organic grapes at least, meaning independent winemakers pay anal attention to their soil. The natural wine community gives back to our planet by taking care of its soil, taking no nutrients away, and in fact, adds both natural nutrients and life forms I.e earthworms back into the soil.
“Long degraded by industrial agriculture, regenerating our soil is one of our most promising solutions to climate change, and the natural wine movement fits…naturally…into that conversation” BonApettit
Supporting Small Businesses is The Right Thing To Do
As you might have gathered already, the natural wine movement is made up of hundreds of tiny little independent producers, suppliers and industry advocates.
Essentially it’s a community that especially supports small businesses.
Now there could be some corporate-back producers and suppliers out there labelling themselves as natural (which for me, goes against the true essence of natural wine) but they are in the minority and most certainly keep their business decisions in the darkness.
It’s important to support a small business like a natural winery because you’re helping out an honest, hardworking business owner who could have been hit even harder than you by these economically unstable times.
We need to keep small businesses open to keep the remains of community and society intact.
Small businesses are important to the economic and social fabric of our society, and we all play a part in their survival. Dayna Winter, Shopify
Supporting a small business by buying their wine can also be a point of discovery for yourself. Independent wineries have the freedom to express diversity and uniqueness to their wines, meaning you will always have a better shopping experience with me and improving bottles of wine on offer.
Drinking natural wine is the right way to consume alcohol, not just because it’s made from organic grapes or it’s minimal/intervention background, but because it’s handmade product that came from the bare hands of an independent winemaker.
There’s no help from economically harming machines, just a winemaker and his/her ageing vessels trying to make a living for themself.
You want to get behind transparent business models like a natural winery because it’s n honest way of life as opposed to joining the conveyor belt owned by big corporations who couldn’t care less about your quality of life, just your currency.
By Richard Artner, Alex Kagl, and winemaker Luka Zeichmann
Joiseph’s name comes from a playful take on the Austrian village in which they are from, Jois! It is situated on the mountain of Leitha overlooking an amazing view of Lake Neusiedl.
The Piroska gets its name from the Hungarian word ’Piros’ which means light red and is made from Blaufränkisch, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt grapes making the Piroska a delightful blended wine that I wouldn’t call a red or rosé, to be honest, it’s something in between both.
Fresh red fruit flavours are instantly what came to mind when drinking this wine, similar to juicy in-season strawberries – a slight touch of sweetness and very little acidity!
From what I could taste there was no tannin remanence even with the Influence of Pinot Noir grapes. It was super fun drinking the Piroska thanks to the slight bit of fizz to it.
Thanks to @iscawines. for the recommendation and thanks to to @joiseph.weingut for the very special wine!
The juice. It’s what brought you here. It’s what brought us here too. The rainbow erotica of beverages. The pink, golden, red, luminous glasses of grapes that you may have seen floating around on Instagram, and even in a few bars and restaurants. That stuff, that’s Natural Wine.
Natural wine is something that’s been in the area for a few years now, and in the country for that little bit longer, but, only now, is it receiving the traction and praise that in our opinion, it deserved a lot sooner.
The three people who contributed to this article, myself Richard Farthing, photographer Jack Surplus, and beverage journalist Eoghan Neburagho are all into our food and drink. And I’m not just saying we’re takeaway aficionados, or simply eat vegan food and drink kombucha. All I mean is that when we sit down for a bev, for a meal too even, we like to know what it is, where it came from, and who it came from. All driven by curiosity and being nosey bastards. And that’s a combination great for an EatMCR article. This piece is about natural wine, and how it found itself in the beautiful city of Manchester that we call home. We found out where it came from, who brought it, where you can find it, and maybe, just maybe, what the future holds for what we believe to be much more that just a drink.
I’d also like to point out that we’re best fucking mates, housemates, work colleagues, and serious drinkers. So you best believe while we were researching, writing, and editing this piece, we were having a bloody good time doing so. And that’s what the best journalism is right?
Where It All Began
It all started back in 2015 with the arrival of Caroline Dubois, a very special lady who comes from Montreal — a city known for its Jazz, festivals, food, and now deemed “a minimal-intervention wine haven”. Caroline moved to Manchester after travelling the world for 10 years (save the best for last ey), befriending many natural winemakers along the way and as a result, came back with a plan to revitalise Manchester’s bellow-par natural wine scene. Maybe she was trying to replicate what’s so tantalising about the natty scene in her home city of Montreal, maybe she wanted to change the entire landscape of drinking good wine in the North West of England, or maybe, just maybe, she just wanted a GOOD glass of wine.
What Caroline did not realise about Manchester five years ago is that there wasn’t a whiff of natural wine in the city. She had her work cut out for her…
After searching high and low, in just about every nook & cranny of Manchester, Caroline consistently came up short. Nobody was interested in natural wine and there were zero importers in and around the city. So she did what all pioneers do, went straight to the source, tapped into her network of natural winemakers she met along her travels, and ordered some wine. All that was left was to find where to sell it.
Inevitably, two journeys met in the middle. Caroline heard of Sam Buckley, an established restauranteur receiving a fair amount of media coverage and praise for his new up and coming venture — A Restaurant Where The Light Gets In. WTLGI was pushing the boundaries both on and off the plate before the doors had even opened. After a quick meeting, 30 minutes to be exact, it was obvious Sam & Caroline would make a cracking team — Natural Wine and Natural local-based Food, a true match made in heaven. They both had ideals and goals that resonated around the same thing -Storytelling by creating a narration through food and wine. They wanted the products to speak. And in turn, they together went on to create what is now regarded as one of the best menus in the city.
“ It was more about the experience itself, so, how these two things gotogether (natural food + natural wine) can bring people on ajourney” Caroline Dubois
Where It Is Now
Fast forward a few years.
That general mumble of the words ‘natural wine’ has turned into a whisper. A few people know of it, and some people stock it…thankfully!
But that is not to say that it has became popular, just yet. A few indie restaurants across Manchester have began to showcase the holy juice you and I formally know as natural wine. Even a few cafes too.
The dining scene in Manchester is continuing to evolve daily, it’s a proper force to be reckoned with, and the wine scene follows by the hair of its nose. We’ve seen suchrestaurants like Erst (our personal favourite) pop up over the last few years, showcasing seasonal dishes at their very best. Minimal-intervention cooking paired with minimal-intervention wine in the North West of England are taking the country by storm. It’s a wonderful sight to see and an even nicer one to taste.
And this is where our boy, our wine guru, our natural wine shepherd takes over. I could tell you to drink this juice here, or that juice there. But, experience talks. So we sent the man known online as ‘NaturalSwill’ aka Eoghan Neburagho out to give us his best spots, the selection that tickles him the most and one that might tickle you too …
Natural Swill — Let me start by filling you in on some of the most insightful advice I’ve ever received with regards to natural wine and how best to enjoy it, courtesy of Caroline Dubois herself.
(I got this gem of knowledge upon one of many trips to Caroline’s funky, yet quaint natural wine bar/shop based in Levenshulme, Manchester.)
Natural wine is subjective, and the whole point of drinking natural wine is to be apart of an experience you may never have had before.
The sweet nectar we love to call natural wine beholds a unique experience with each and every mouthful you take, which will differ based on the person drinking it i.e you could be blown away with feelings and emotions of excitement and curiosity upon your first sip, based on the sheer integrity of that wine and its compelling background story.
Whereas I could experience something completely different to you — something more refined that brings out specific tastes and flavours I’m somewhat used to trying like a mineral, acidic kinda vibe simply because of my experience with natural wine.
That’s the true beauty of natural wine — the subjective experience each and every mouthful brings to the table, no two glass’ will taste the same for two different people!
Anyway, before I get carried away with the sentiment of natural wine and all that ‘snow-flake’ type talk, which I easily could do… I am going to provide you with 4 of my favourite spots in Manchester broken down into two different recommendations -the first will be 2 of my go-to spots for a smashing glass of wine, somewhere you could sit by the bar and fuck the world
off for a couple hours, go on a romantic one on one date or to simply just indulge in the finer things in life…natural wine.
The other two recommendations will be my go-to spots for a take away bottle of wine. With this ever changing economical climate and COVID-19 etc there has never been a better time to simply grab a bottle to go and enjoy in the comfort
of your own home — a place that’s safe, sound and definitely warmer than the winters here in Manny!
@Erst_mcr — Erst has probably got one of the grandest natural wine selections by the glass and by the bottle in the whole city, there’s just no denying it. And their wine selection sits perfectly with the ethos of the joint ; only use natural/organic products and ingredients local to Manchester. When you’re looking for a harmonious experience between food and a glass of natural wine Erst has to be your go-to spot, without a doubt.
@Iscawines — Isca was started up by two ladies who are well-equipped to delve into the natural wine world, Caroline Dubois and Isobel Jenkins. Call it a hole in the wall, a wine bar, a natural wine shop, a deli, you name it and they’ve successfully managed to cover it in the quaint yet intimate space they’ve got based in Levenshulme Village. The experience in Isca is like no other, their wine selection (by the glass especially) is O F F . T H E . C H A R T thanks to Caroline’s say euro connections and possibly the most unique, ever-changing selection in the country. If you haven’t already been, get your arse up their because like the entire essence of natural wine, it’s a subjective, special experience at Isca.
@idlehandscoffee — Idle Hands Coffee in the NQ of Manchester is one of the true hidden gems of the city if you’re looking for bottles of natural wine. As you can tell by the name, Idle Hands is mainly a coffee shop by trade, with some of the most delicious vegan cakes and bakes you’ll ever taste. But, if you take an immediate 90 degree turn whilst at the cash register, you will find yourself two very special stand alone units displaying bottle after bottles of unique natural wine, it’s so low-key and un-advertised — I love it! With a seasonal-changing, stunning selection of natural wines this place deserves more credit then it gets. The coffee/bottle shop model is a thing of the future and in my opinion, Idle Hands have nailed the concept on the head.
@anotherhearttofeed — The green tropical-like plants surrounding the area, the ranging from punk-rock to deep-house music in the background, the fantastic service and needless to mention, the amazing natural wine selection are all on point in this new spot based in the city centre of Manchester. I’ve been here a few times now since first writing about them and I’m more and more impressed every time I go in. There’s no denying this is a classy joint for a glass of wine, I struggled to keep it out of the above list if I am honest, but it’s their bottled wine options that impressed me. They are nothing short of mouthwatering. They’ve got Australian natural wines, French natural wines, Italian, South African and every other country in-between, like Georgian natural wine! Do yourself the favour and pop into these guys for a bottle to go, the friendly, knowledgeable staff will guide you in the right direction suited perfectly to your natty needs.
I’ll hand it back over to Rick for his final take on the future of natural wine in Manchester, the opinions of future natural wine advocates in the city and where we see it going in the next few years.
The Future Of Natural Wine In Manchester
Now I’ll start by saying this is all speculation. We could be right and we could be wrong. It’s like we’ve got a tip on a horse that’ll win at the races. Tips are helpful but you never know which way the world will go anymore, shit could go tits up at any given moment.
The first thing we think is that the ol’ natural wine will be popping up in places you never thought it would. We give it two years before you’ll bag a bottle of natty in Booths…
But for now, you can see the initial signs.
Two worlds are naturally joining together — Manchester and natural wine. People and business’ are opening their hearts, and shelves to natural wine and it’s a joy to be apart of in these early stages. It’s an ethos, that turns out, isn’t too different to others.
We spoke to Chris Bardsley of Batch Bottlestore, a highly regarded craft beer shop and bar, and now newly opened deli and wine bar about why they wanted to be apart of the natural wine movement here in Manchester ;
“We’ve focused on craft beer for a long time now and we love the general ethos and community feel to it and this is something we see similarities within the natural wine world — Independently run breweries/winemakers putting love and care into a small batch of beer/natural wine for us, means a much higher quality product. It just felt natural (pun intended) to delve into the natural wine world. We’ve seen a few great places in and around Manchester have a wine list dedicated just to natural wine and we wanted to bring the energy to south Manchester and particularly Altrincham with batch deli.”
In our opinion (opinions are a beautiful thing — they can never be wrong) it wont be long before you’re getting a round in of gooseberry IPA’s and a carafe of an Italian skin-contact natural wine all on the same card payment. Craft means care, and maybe the craft beer world might be a perfect partner for the craft wine world too. It’s all love for a beverage.
Next up for us is Le Social — This place, to put lightly, is fighting for wine. It’s run by Jérôme Boullier who’s passion for grapes is unmissable, like many of the other people we’ve spoken too.
“We select wines based on their social credentials and potential. These are wines which make a positive social impact throughout the supply chain, from the people working in the vineyards to the friends and families who will live a special moment sharing them.”
Having opened in November 2019, in simpler times I might add, Jérôme set up shop out of a shipping container in New Islington, selling wine right out of it. Yes a shipping container…
Not a restaurant, nor a cafe. A bottle shop, a HQ hidden away in a steel shipping container no different from the one next to it.
Since lockdown they’ve been selling in-house, online, and even delivering by bike. A modern day milk man supplying modern day juice. We’re at a point now where you can get a bottle to your door within 24hrs.
Jeff Bezos has missed an opportunity because just like everything else in the world, natty is going digital. Zoom call tastings, wine subscriptions and even an influx of passionate, knowledgeable social media-ers like @naturalswill , @sosolidcru and @petnatposse just to mention a few!
If you look for natural wine right now you will find it, but in the future — next month, next year, maybe even tomorrow, we can guarantee it’s going to find you. This is a drink, a movement, a lifestyle that isn’t slowing down.