If you're more than a casual wine drinker, if you follow wine the way bookies follow horses and TMZ follows starlets, then you're familiar with the Natural Wine movement. How could you not be? In the last couple of years, it seems as if every cogent wine commentator in print from San Francisco to Sydney has seen fit to write about the phenomenon (and here I am, bringing up the rear).


Minimal intervention allows nature to do the work

"Natural Wine" is a somewhat squishy term referring to wines made with minimal inputs and minimal intervention. Its practitioners convert their musts with indigenous yeasts (disdaining commercial versions) and eschew the enzymes and other additives used to hurry along, shape or complete fermentation. They do not add fixatives, colorants, tannins, acid, oak (neutral barrels are OK); they do not add water if they can help it. They use sulfur minimally, if at all, believing that its prophylactic facility comes at the expense of the wine's more essential expressive properties. And they swear off scores of other practices to "correct" or otherwise redirect a wayward wine into something more desirable or critic-friendly. The idea is to make something as close to 100 percent wine as is humanly possible, more expressive of grape and place than of man. (See note below story.)

Photo: Alice Feiring. Credit: Annaïck Le Mignon