Interesting article in The Guardian this week about natural wine and its development. I think David Williams has it about right. There is a spirit of punk about the natural wine movement. As someone who lived through the punk music scene of 77 and saw all the top punk bands, other than the Sex Pistols sadly, I can see the parallels. The reaction against convention and the big business aspects, the desire for something more straightforward and honest, no more overblown music / wine. Maybe that is why natural wines appeal to me, that link to the music of my past and the similar philosophy. Though I can’t spike my hair anymore.
Have a look at this poster for La Remise, a natural wine salon in Arles in March which I described on the Tastings page.
Remind you of anything? This?
David points out that many people have a real antipathy towards natural wines just as many people did towards punk. Never mind that you haven’t experienced it just criticise because it’s new and it doesn’t fit convention. Or because you missed its start so don’t want to be seen as a latecomer. Utter boll**** as the album says.
He is right too that not everything is good. I saw and heard and bought some absolute rubbish in punk music. For every New Rose there was a Generation X song. Or Plastic Bertrand! I have tasted some of the ‘bacterial murk’ in natural wines and many that I would never want to taste again. But there was New Rose and Anarchy and White Riot and Blank Generation. And there is Barral and Fahl and Pardet and Foillard and Métras and ….
However punk had a long lasting influence in the way that music was made from grunge to thrash metal to rap. And the way that music is made, the independent labels etc and the publish it yourself attitude we see online these days. It makes people think and question the way they do things. Many winemakers are rethinking their approaches to sulphur even if they don’t want to eliminate their use. So too natural producers often forego the big labels and go their own way, Vin de France rather than AOP for example. And look at some of these:
Punk was a reaction to triple albums of mind numbing drum solos performed by posing, preposterous public schoolboys. Natural wines are a reaction to overextracted, 200% oaked, jammy Parkerised gloop. Instead of twiddling the knobs on the mixing desk or reverse osmosis machine let the music or the grape speak for itself.
Perhaps too press reaction is coloured by its loss of control? No longer the arbiters of taste and what is good. Instead fanzines for punk and now blogs for music and wine are the, apologies for this, grapevine. Fewer free tours to Bordeaux, Beaune or Buenos Aires can make those journalists turn sour.
Many natural winemakers will fall away, as did punk bands. Some will shine then fade quickly. Others will live long or develop. A new wave. But natural wine is here to stay as Williams says. The movement is widespread in the heartlands of France, Italy and Spain. People do like the freshness and vibrancy. Yes there is an annoying trendiness but as that settles we are left with some great wines which will endure.
The article recommends Classe of Jeff Coutelou and it is a great wine. This is a wine that should definitely stay and not go. This is wine made by a free thinker and a creative artist. Joe Strummer’s songs led The Clash from punk fringe to recognition as top class. Oh and notice anything?
Now then who’s the Johnny Rotten?