8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On 11:21 AM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine   No comments

Natural wine, and my thoughts on the on-going debate

Olivier Cousin at 67 Wine during 
2011 Natural Winemakers' Week

From the outset, there seems to be lots of crazy opinions (often angry ones) about these wines. Find and judge for yourself here, here, and here. That will get you far enough down the rabbit hole of the debate. It occurs to me that maybe people fear that “natural wine” will become a monster category, and take over the wine business. Could this be the case? If so, it’s blatantly silly. Compare worldwide sales of natural wine with Veuve sales, for instance, and well… You see, there is no reason to have any concern.

Admittedly, I like natural wine a lot (and drink lots of it). The current situation, in which people are simultaneously attacking and lauding the category is unfortunate for me, as I imagine it could be for the farmers and winemakers of these wines. It’s also confusing for the customer, though, that said, the freewheeling looseness of the this stuff is appealing for a lot people.

From my perspective, what I like best about these wines (as a professional and professional user) is not trying to narrowly define them, but instead, tell the wine's story. There's always something compelling. Perhaps it's a wine made by a small concern, a family farm on a unique piece of land that no one wanted, or that was abandoned… And what makes them different is that perhaps they use a horse, or create a wine from a grape that time has forgotten. Clearly, the stories are unique. One farmer/winemaker that comes to mind is Olivier Cousin. (By the way, I like the term vigneron for this – one person who both farms the grapes and does the cellar work.) Cousin uses horses in the vineyard, and creates singular wines from heirloom grapes such as Grolleau, in the Loire Valley. This is exactly the type of tale I love. Of late, Olivier's story has got a lot of press, as he created a stir against the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) in France.

Another domain I truly admire is Domaine Deux Anes from Dominique and Magali Terrier. There is a large gathering here in NYC during Natural Winemakers' Week hosted by a famous wine writer, and I was lucky to attend the party last year. There were two young French kids there, hangin' out, and watching all of us. Later, I found out that these two young folk were the children of Dominique and Magali… Here is an example of a family winery, working hard together to create some very good wines from the Corbières region. 

Sharing these stories is fun, and makes the wine memorable and interesting for us in the wine business, and our customers. Plus, the wines are very often delicious (though some, perhaps not – like any wine). In my buying and selling experience, our customers at 67 Wine love these wines so much that some even encourage their friends to drink them. What better proof than customers as advocates? To me, that’s validation. But more importantly, it’s about enjoyment and pleasure. – Ben Wood | Wine Buyer | @7stringben on Twitter

This week, we celebrate Natural Winemakers' Week in NYC and at 67 Wine. Join us this Friday from 4-7PM for a taste of natural wine from three vigneron, including Domaine des Sablonnettes, Loup Blanc, and Chateau Haut Lavigne.


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