I have been in the UK for the last two weeks and thought I would look around to see whether I could find natural, biodynamic or organic wines. If I lived in London then the experience would have been very different as there are a number of wine merchants who sell natural wines, even specialise in them. This website has a map showing such oases. Around the country there are merchants who also specialise in these wines, the excellent Vins Naturels website links to some.
However, I live in the North East and it is a desert for the sort of wines which I love. I walked around a number of supermarkets and it was a depressing experience. Rows of shelves loaded with branded wines from the usual suspects, Yellow Tail, Gallo etc. Hardly any artisanal wines and, in my regular supermarket, I could not find one organic wine let alone natural wine. On the websites of the big supermarkets, Tesco lists 5 organic wines from almost 600 wines, Morrisons just two from over 500. Other big chains don’t even show organic wines.
The moral is, if you want to drink organic, biodynamic or natural wines, then search online for specialist merchants. The message is not getting out there to a wider wine drinking public. Just this week I read a thread on a well known wine forum which included comments about not buying natural wine in France as it doesn’t travel back to the UK. Complete nonsense of course. Many natural producers sell their wines in the USA, Australia and Japan in large quantities. I transport such wines regularly back to the north of England with no problem whatsoever. That people still go along with such nonsense shows that prejudice and clichés carry more weight than reality. But then after recent weeks why does that still surprise me?
The Real Wine Fair, RAW and other events show that there is a market in the UK but it is very London centric. We need change.
July 15, 2016 at 1:23 pm
Alan, your last comment struck home. I have brought natural wines back for many years. Though I do use a big cool box, you can guess that plenty just has to take its chance in the boot. The cardboard boxes insulate them a bit.
It seems that many things take longer to reach the Northeast. Natural wine, prosperity, and an appreciation of one’s fellow man from wherever they hail. Is that unfair? My part of the south coast is pretty cosmopolitan and tollerant, but also more prosperous. And there’s natural wine.
What your folks up there will do when Nissan piss off, lord knows?
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July 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm
A long time ago, I had a Polish friend who was married to a girl from the South of England. She told him not to apply for a job in Manchester because “they are all prejudiced up there”. He saw the irony, but it was lost on her.
Generalisations are usually dangerous, but I’m sure you know that, David.
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July 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm
I do love my region David but it is a bit of a food and drink desert with occasional oases such as the 21 group and Bouchon Bistrot in Hexham for food. Sadly, the exception to the rule. When I look at Cumbria I see Michelin restaurants and excellent local food sourcing, I assume the middle class element of the region and visitors encourages that.
Nissan? Well, apparently they have announced a new model is to be built there but the future must be unclear.
As for transporting wine, I have never had one bottle of natural wine spoiled by the journey. Thank goodness for people like Leon Stolarski in terms of purchases.
July 15, 2016 at 1:50 pm
My name is Andrew Krell. I regularly receive your blog posts in the mail and very much look forward to reading them. I have been a fan of Jeff’s wines for a few years and they are easy to find in NYC where the appetite for real/natural wine is growing. You write very well about the day to day life in the vines. I am the NYC Rep for Raisin, the world’s first app for iOS which lists places where one can purchase and drink natural wine. We currently have over 1,000 places listed worldwide and growing. My friend Jean-Hugues started On boit quoi ce soir which you referenced and is the creator of Raisin. I think most of the listings for England are for London, but check it out, it is a free download.
Best regards, Andrew
> Link App Store : apple.co/22qIsui > Website : http://www.raisin.digital/en/ > Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/naturalwineapp/ > Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naturalwineapp/ > Twitter: https://twitter.com/naturalwineapp/
And I am on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/antrim24/
Sent from my iPad
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July 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm
Thanks Andrew for the generous comments. I shall certainly follow up your links and the app. Best wishes, Alan
July 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm
This has me thinking …
So many producers (in France, particularly) use organic or bio methods but don’t fuss over the label (or resist it, even). So, these wines are out there, they are lovely, and we want them.
I’m American, so I’m making some assumptions about similarly situated UK…but here consumers deeply desire the organic food label and products are easy to find. When it comes to the organic (we’ll call it that, bio isn’t widely understood by consumers) the impression seems to be that it will be somehow “watered down”.
I’m not saying they don’t sell, but is there an impression that they are less than, rather than the essential truth that they are emboldened by the hand of a thoughtful winemaker?
Labelling is a huge deal here now, and this is an interesting conversation, as much about marketplace as wine.
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July 15, 2016 at 5:41 pm
I know from experience in working with Jeff that US organic regulations are tougher than those in Europe, perhaps that deters some French producers from applying for the label in the States? However, when you see the label it should carry more confidence.
Organic status does have its followers in the UK, especially in areas such as David’s (above) but I sense that France is way ahead in its demand for bio.
I must follow up about labelling and organics, thanks for the reminder 🙂