Nunc est bibendum!

Now it’s time to drink!

In the days of the Roman Empire, Felix & Obelix et al, wine always contained a certain sacred significance and was of course much loved by all who could afford it. (30 denari for half a litre of the good stuff) Red wine was ‘vinum atrum’ and white wine was called ‘vinum candidum’. The wines where then known to be cloudy and quite acidic, usually fermented in large terracotta containers ‘dolia’, and then poured into smaller amphora for shipping.

It may seem a long time ago since Pliny the elder told us ‘in vino veritas’, probably around 80AD, but from my recent and current memory we go back only to around 2009AD, when the first RAW wine fair got underway in that dusty old East End Truman Brewery building, in London. The vin-adventurous and vin-curious present met for the first time the likes of Frankie Cornellissen, Josko Gravner and Stinki Radikon. These where the then living founders of what our current natural wine movement is today, then known as Orange wine. A total fad! of course, the orange bit. The wines, from these three Italian stables, where super drinkable and still are today of course, but the other natural wine producers present then where producing something not unlike the Roman version. Cloudy, milky white wines and insipid, dirty reds and some red wine sometimes even laced with herbs. Uhg!?

Now bang up to date, 14th November 2022, and yesterday I was invited to taste a selection of what the evening was billed as ‘A Natural Wine Tasting’. I normally avoid these kind of tastings, but as I had already become familiar with a couple of the producers present, only in the last few years, I thought why not go. It’s a Monday afterall, not much else going on and the event is called  ‘Salvajes’.

So clothes on and all, I hopped over to Espacio Darwin and delved straight into number one, a colourful number that went by the name of Kung Fu. Slightly fizzy, Petnat, with an orangey colour to look at. If I had more hair on my head I think I might have wanted to use it as a shampoo or even a bubble bath. The next wine had the colour of a Pastis once the water has been added. It actually had a remarkable Pastis texture to it aswell, like a milky Sauvignon-Pastis Blanc. I rather liked it in an odd sort of way, and it went by the name of Alpamanta. I am sure my kids would love this kind of wine, most of the punters there where in their 20s and 30s. All mainly low alcoholíc wines and real sippers of a Greta Thunderpant’s vintage. No blame, no gain and definitely I was the only one there not tattoed or pierced, no cellphone and probably the oldest fellow on the block, as I waded through wines and grapes that I had never heard of before. Gellewza and Geuche, Garranoir and Roditis. Why do they all begin with the letter G? Gggggretah! Well, I even drammed a local ‘artesanal’ Gin as a final digestivo. Superb quality that went by ‘El Largavida’.  The handful of wines that you will have never heard of, until now that is, that are NOT making stinky-pinky, milky, sour and over flavoured herbal wines. Are coming from some very very serious bodegas and producers. None of them are big commercial names, very low key and if I could afford them I would be drinking them on a daily basis. All of them produce, probably no more than 5.000-6.000 bottles, and less of course. Look out for Los Dragones, Canopus, Pielihueso, Oir Ese Rio and Alpamanta. All these wines are from Mendoza except Los Dragones. They are making very fine wine, naturally, up there in the province of San Juan, north of Mendoza. There where also two lovely suprises from Tarija in Bolivia, and a good fellow from Rio Grande in Brasil, a long journey for both teams. Both very present and rather brave! if you ask me.

There was not one mention of the word Organic during the day, fabulouso! 
It already seems rather passe! to me, and of course re-passe! to the new ultra-cool NWM (Natural Wine Movement). B-D was, yes, mentioned in all places. Just in case you forgot what all of this actually means, here is a sampler for you as a simple reminder. Good luck!:

Organic wine (very passe!)
“Organic wine is made from grapes that were farmed and vinified organically. This means that the farming practises used to produce the grapes do not raly on artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides”.

Biodynamic wine (no one get’s angry anymore when the B-D is mentioned)
“Biodynamic wine is produced from grapes grown through biodynamic principles (Steiner style only pls). This is when the land is seen as part of the planet and solar system, and the vineyard isn’t seen as an isolated piece of land, engineered for the sole purpose of growing grapes”. (let’s not forget the preparations please)

Natural wine (open sesame!)
“It’s a wine without synthetic chemicals or oenological inputs, made from organic grapes harvested by hand”.

Now, all of that is out of the way, here is some totally good other news. A Swiss journal just published a lovely article about Elena’s Basilicatan Titolo:

An Argentine Gaucho named Bruno
said “Humping is one thing I do know.
A woman is fine,
and a sheep is divine:
but a llama is definitely ‘numero uno'”.

S.N.A.F.U. (end of 2022)