Grape expectations: The natural wine movement

Alistair Cooper
Alistair Cooper

Alistair Cooper, of Wines Unfurled, talks about the natural wine movement in his latest column

The wine industry is similar to many others in that it is constantly evolving, certain styles and grapes go in and out of fashion.

Poor old oaky Chardonnay has been usurped by Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon upstaged by Merlot.

Currently the hot topic that divides the wine world is the ‘natural wine movement’ pioneered by the likes of Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais.

Firstly, let’s get something straight. There is no such thing as ‘natural wine’ as wine does not make itself if left to nature, man must intervene in order to produce wine.

Natural winemakers are committed to minimum intervention in both the vineyard and winery, they believe that much modern wine is overly processed.

Often they farm biodynamically (a whole new topic), use wild yeasts naturally present in the air instead of cultured yeasts and they use very little or no sulphur dioxide. This all sounds good to me – less chemical additions in both the vineyard and the winery.

Guess what - when it is done well the results can be fantastic, unprocessed delicious wines with vibrancy, purity and drinkability.

However, producing wines in such a manner can be a dangerous game to play. Sulphur dioxide acts as a preservative and an antiseptic agent, it prevents spoilage and makes the wine more stable.

Not adding sulphur can result in wines with rather peculiar and dirty aromas if not managed properly or stored properly after bottling. The interest in natural wines has led to some jumping on the bandwagon, making poor wines and merely using the ‘natural’ tag to excuse the putrid aromas.

Undoubtedly great wines can be made following the natural wine ideology, yet some awful ones can also be made. The same statement however also rings true for wines that are made more conventionally. One thing is certain though, it is not possible to make good wine from bad grapes, and that means that care and attention in the vineyard is of paramount importance.

For me, not using systemic pesticides and farming your vineyard with respect and in the most sustainable way possible is the most important step to producing wines that really speak of their place.

With the best raw materials possible the winemaker then has total control over the end product, and the myriad of decisions that he must take along the way will determine the end result.

At Wines Unfurled we source all of our wines directly from growers who share our beliefs, there are no third parties involved. We work with farmers who farm largely biodynamically and organically and who believe in minimum intervention wherever possible.

Some of the wines are produced naturally, some are not. However all of the wines are what I like to call ‘real wines’ - wines created with passion, coupled with care and respect for the environment.

These are not factory wines, homogenised and overtreated, they are authentic wines that are honestly made and are delicious to drink.

As an introductory offer to all Advertiser and Review readers, we have a superb starter case deal – a case of 12 wines for just £100, a discount of 40 per cent.

To claim your case please go to and enter the following coupon code SCO1 under the offers tab. Then go to cases and scroll down to ‘starter case.’ LIMITED STOCKS.

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