Saying “I love natural wine” is kind of like saying “I love wine.” We certainly don’t have a problem with that sentiment - we’re simply saying that it’s worth understanding what you like about it. In generally, a wine is considered natural if:
- The grapes are handpicked after being grown organically and/or biodynamically.
- The winemakers are small-scale producers, often in areas that aren’t thought of as blue-chip wine regions.
- Fermentation is kicked off with yeasts that exist naturally in the vineyard, and the addition of sulfites is kept to a minimum.
- Wines are bottled with minimal fining or filtering (a lot of them are cloudy).
In other words, it’s the pursuit to minimize human intervention in the winemaking process to allow the most authentic representation of the land and grapes as possible.
We have strong opinions about which natural wines we like (and which ones might as well be kombucha). Here are our current top favorites.
Vivanterre is a natural wine produced in France by a natural winemaker in partnership with designer Rosie and her husband Max Assoulin, with the support of renowned sommelier Cedric Nicaise.
Using organically and biodynamically farmed grapes, and vinified using natural processes, Vivanterre reflects the “living earth” from which its name comes. These wines are savory, earthy, and grab your attention in a nice way.
Sortevera is a small, organic winegrower on the Canary Island of Tenerife. Using the islands native grapes and age-old practices, they make wines that are salty and crisp. Sortevera's is richer style, with a little more upfront appeal than Tenerife's more wild wines.
4 Monos is made by four friends who met while hiking. They make wine from these same mountains, which are around Madrid. It’s medium bodied, and tastes like cherries, chocolate, and actually like the dirt it grows in. While the idea of tasting dirt sounds miserable, in wine, it can be a nice thing. The main grape is garnacha, one of Spain’s most well known.
Stéphane Tissot is an icon in the Jura. Their wines are on the right side of natural, meaning they are a little bit wild but still delicious. This wine is cloudy, earthy, and tastes like sour cherries. It's a blend of all three red grapes from the Jura: Trousseau, poulsard, and pinot. If you're looking to explore, it's a quintessential wine from a region that up until recently was veiled in mystery.
Pét-Nat is an old but newly acclaimed way of making sparkling wine—it's like light sparkling wine. This one is briny, floral, and very easy to drink.
Cirelli is not just a winery. On their many acres of organic land in Abruzzo they press olive oil, grow fruits and vegetables, and raise cattle too. But their wine is great. This bottle is crisp, lemony, and a little salty. It makes sense after a long day if you were doing all that work, too.
The natural winery Chanterêves is run by a Frenchman named Guillaume and his Japanese wife, Tomoko. They've worked at some of the greatest spots in France, most recently at Domaine Simon Bize in Burgundy. This wine, aged in old oak, tastes a bit like rocks and seashells. Provided you don't actually chew on those things, the flavors are great.
At their monastery on the outskirts of Rome, eighty or so Cistercian nuns work their vineyards and gardens organically. They make this orange wine from the local grapes grown in volcanic soils. This is a distinctly refreshing, crisp, and savory natural wine.
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