Dip your toes into ‘natural’ wine with this guide from the author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, Helen McGinn, who shares her top picks – take it away, Helen!
“Hear the words ‘natural wine’ and it might make you wonder what on earth might be in a wine to make it not natural in the first place. After all, we’re talking about squashed, fermented grapes aren’t we? Well, yes but when a wine is billed as a natural wine by its winemaker, it means that the wine was made with little or no intervention either in the vineyard or in the winery. So, no pesticides in the vineyard and no additives used when making the wine (other than a tiny bit of sulphur by some winemakers to keep the wine fresher for longer).
“To be called a natural wine, the grapes must be organic or biodynamic (think super organic, with the producer treating the grapes according to phases of the moon. No, I haven’t been drinking). Levels of ‘naturalness’ vary from one producer to the next so it’s hard to generalise when it comes to how they taste. But in my experience, the good ones are bright and vibrant with a kind of raw energy about them.
“Finding them isn’t always easy. Supermarkets now stock plenty of good organic wines (meaning wines made from organically grown grapes) but natural wines are still few and far between. Better to head to your local independent wine shop, or try one of my favourite online wine shops, lescaves.co.uk. And just to warn you, they’re not cheap because, generally speaking, they’re made in small quantities. Here are a few to try:
“Chateau Tour des Gendres Bergerac Blanc Cuvée des Conti, £13.95, lescaves.co.uk
A gorgeous white from South West France made form a blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle. Really fresh, lightly floral, lots of lime fruit. Delicious.
“Garage Wine Company Lot 46 Carignan, £26, thesolentcellar.co.uk
From Chile’s Maule region, this is a big bold red made from the Carignan grape. It was dry-farmed, meaning the grapes had to work really hard to get ripe, concentrating the natural flavours.”
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