I’m not sure what started the online blow up of natural wines that has all the heavy weights writing and tweeting this week. It seems like the topic is more divisive than it should be, and has that childish quality of "my toy is better than your toy.“
But because this crosses my own interests in biodynamic wines, the expression of terroir and curiosity of a hands-off approach to winemaking, I’m doing my best to wade through the debate.
The first piece I spotted was this Newsweek story by Bruce Palling: Why ‘Natural’ Wine Tastes Worse Than Putrid Cider. I’m slightly appalled that such an opinionated article is under the Newsweek banner without the word "opinion” or “column” or even an explanation of who the author is. The commenters have done a good job calling him out, though.
Next, British wine blogger Jamie Goode posted on his site: I love natural wine, but… He’s smart to talk about it from the perspective that it’s becoming too cult-like, rather than “inclusive and welcoming."
And now, The New York Times’ wine aficionado has this to say:
— Eric Asimov (@EricAsimov)
Even four years ago this was a heated argument. He writes in the column from 2012:
Almost two years ago, I likened the natural-wine discussion to a hornet’s nest, which had set off disagreements all over the world of wine. If anything, the fracas has worsened, except that now the loudest voices are those of condemnation. The criticism raises the question of what, exactly, people find so threatening about natural wines and the people who enjoy them.
Clearly, critics perceive the natural-wine partisans as self-righteous, scolding and sanctimonious fundamentalists, even if the evidence is supplied only by implication. That is, if you call your wine natural, what does that make mine? Unnatural? Manipulated?
I don’t have a firm stake in this debate, but it seems silly to go back and forth on what is the best winemaking method, when one of the amazing things (at least to me) about wine is how every drop that’s produced can be completely unique.