There's actually a lot to talk about for a subject about not much.
Less of more and more of less... sound ironic? Indeed! The world is full of beautiful irony, it's what makes it all so darn interesting and wonderful. Such a sentiment could be considered a world view of sorts I suppose; an outlook that we (collectively) don’t need as much as we have and can also do more with less. It's an optimistic perspective and one that leads to creativity, ingenuity and sustainability. Natural wines sum up such a sentiment rather neatly…
They’re lo-fi or low intervention, which just means minimal additives and manipulation throughout the entirety of the winemaking process. Starting with growing grapes organically (not using synthetic chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or fertilisers) creates healthier soil that is ‘living’ with countless micro-organisms and ultimately creates super flavoured quality fruit -- more with less. Sound good so far? Healthy soil also sequesters more carbon from the atmosphere, think positive climate change, which in turn creates healthier soil. That’s another tick in the positive column.
Photo by Jonathan Kemper
Then there's the wine making part of the process, which again is a 'less is more' approach. The focus is the grape, which we now know is brimming with goodness from its healthy origin. There’re no additives going on here either to change flavour, colour, clarity or texture of the wine. Even the yeasts, the culprits behind turning the juice alcoholic, are wild and natural unlike conventional wines where it’s added supplementarily. It's about quality fruit that is then guided by skilled and creative hands. The result is a wine that’s unique, true to itself, time and place, and full of vibrancy and flavour. ‘Less’ again is doing a whole lot ‘more’.
For me part of the joy of drinking natural wines is they’re different, unexpected, and always changing. The wines on our shelves are in relative short supply as they’re not mass produced by corporations whose primary care is the bottom line. In most cases, natural wine producers are independent family-run businesses with sincere intentions of creating something awesome while leaving the world a little better off in the making.
These days we’re so accustomed with excess. We often use too much, consume too much, drink and eat too much (often foods that aren’t good for us). Take cake as an example. It’s really just flour, sugar and egg combined and made hot. The result is a delicious treat that in moderation isn’t too bad for you. These days we’ve become accustomed to over complicating such a simple, tasty sweet in lieu of convenience that comes in a box; raising agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, acidity regulators, preservatives, stabilisers and a whole lot of numbers that would confuse most math wizards.
There’s a beauty in simple. The natural world, although incredibly complex and nuanced, has an over-arching simplicity. Organic matter is given life, it later dies, decomposes and returns to where it came from so as to help create new life.
Flipping the headline over... let's talk about getting more for less! It sounds like the bargain we've all been looking for eh?! And I guess it is, even though natural wines typically come with a higher price tag than many items at the bottle shop, but what you’re really getting is more bang for your buck. More flavour. More variation. More nutrients and living organisms in the soil which means healthy earth and subsequently a healthier planet. More support for independent business. More to discover. There's a lot more we could talk about but for now, we'll leave it with less.