Plain Wine Volume 6: The Celebratory Edition
Oh, well it’s been six months by now! I’ve talked to and met with way more winemakers than the 18 we had in the selection. It’s good to see more and more shifting gears to a more natural approach to winemaking. In case we don’t get as much sun as in February, I hope at least the wines I chose will make your month a little brighter. It’s full of sun from Spain with a crazy mix of grapes channeled into the bottle by Italian expats. A German sparkler full of the best grapes showing their full potential with some skin contact. And the absolute winner for best label design is a very authentic Syrah from France.
2017 Perlen Vor Die Säue
How can anybody with the name Weinreich (Kingdom of Wine) not make wine? When the two brothers Jan and Marc took over the winery from their parents, they switched to organic farming and started slimming down the selection of wines. While Marc began tasting natural wines from all over Europe, he tried to convince his brother to make some as well. After Jan tried a couple, he didn’t like them at all. With some more convincing they created their very first orange wine and now have many natural juices in their line-up.
The name of this Pet Nat translates to “pearls in front of pigs,” meaning if you serve something to people they won’t appreciate it. For this, they only use the best, handpicked grapes and leave them in contact with the juice for two weeks. This sparkler goes into the bottle without fining or filtration. It results in a very zesty drink with some solid minerality and a bittersweet ending. I suggest trying this with Thai food or simple things like pizza.
Domaine du Coulet
2015 Petit Ours
When Matthieu Barret took over the 16 hectares winery in Cornas from his grandfather, he knew he wanted to change everything to organic agriculture. Fairly soon he switched to bio-dynamic farming, as he wasn’t happy with the outcome of just organic farming. Later on, Matthieu even stopped using machines in favor of mules, horses, and manual work. He is an expert in making some of the purest Syrahs and uses concrete eggs for aging or heavily used barrels.
Many of my very early wine experiences were Côtes du Rhône wines, so I tend to like them. So this one I love very much not just for its disco-little-bear looks. The grapes don’t come directly from Cornas, but Visan, which is pretty close. It was aged for nine months in concrete eggs and bottled with a tiny bit of sulfur. You will smell lots of cherries and berries with a little bit of tea. Taste wise it offers more cherries and chocolate combined with perfect acidity and many herbal notes. If you can, open it for an hour or even a day before. This should pair well with grilled vegetables and lamb.
2017 VN Vinel-lo
Garnatxa Bl., Macabeu, Moscatell, Pansé, Parrellada, Vinyater, Xarel-lo
When Antonella and Massimo moved from Italy to Spain, they didn’t know anything about wine. After a year in Barcelona, they wanted a farm and left for Penedes, an area famous for Cava. After initial farming plans, they quickly became interested in making wine, and in 2007 their first vintage was made. By now they have become one of the poster children in the natural wine world. It’s not just because of the very iconic label, but also because they use local grape varieties and experiment with different styles. Even if not all result in a great wine, they have my respect for what they achieved.
The VN is a field blend of 7 white grapes which are typically used to make Cava, but here they make great white wine. It is made with a day of skin contact to give it structure and then left in steel tanks to age. The result is a dangerously easy-to-drink love potion with aromas of ripe white fruit and flowers combined with lovely acidity to get you through any meal. I would try it with a mushroom risotto or raw fish.
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