Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 95, April 2011   
A Natural DefectA Natural Defect  Contents 
Issue 94, March 2011 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 96, May 2011

A Natural Defect


 Events dedicated to the world of wine are always interesting, excellent opportunities to get to know new wines and new friends, to meet the old ones and to share opinions about wine, all being animated by the same passion, although sometimes characterized by different points of view. In Italy - and not only in this country - such occasions are quite frequent, from trade fairs to tasting events, from seminars about a specific wine or grape, to meetings with wine producers. All of them are equally important, as all have the goal of spreading the culture of wine, to dignify this millenary beverage and, whether they are big or small, they all are occasion working for the very same goal. This collective effort must certainly be honored, while avoiding any type of envy or the opposition of whom, having nothing better to offer or propose, tend to belittle or to denigrate them.


 

 This is also true for the world of written wine, as well as spoken, so variegated and full of figures who just think about self-celebrating themselves, in the hypocrite challenge to appear better than others, while showing their meanness. There is room for everyone, no one is better than any other else, every one contributes for what he thinks or what he can, each voice is equally worth and useful to the same cause. We should not forget this. Everyone expresses his ideas, each supporting his or her point of view, each following the fashion he likes the most, or being representative in a specific moment. And fashions - as it is commonly known - come and go with time and not only for opportunity or marketing reasons, they sometimes become concepts similar to indisputable dogmas, incontrovertible, new ways of wine making beliefs and religions. In the course of the last years, for example, fashions in the world of wine have been many, sanctified in their best moment, denied the moment after, then mocked.

 For instance, once there was the barrique and all of its endless wonders, today the barrique is seen with disdain, denied and put in the corner as if it were the responsible of obscene adulterations. Today it is almost become the symbol of the worst wine, the least “genuine” one, and even producers are now reluctant to mention it, despite many continue to use it. The moral of that - most of the times forgotten - is barrique is not good or bad: its contribution depends on the use one makes of it, and this is true for any other tool or wine making technique. In other words, it is not the tool to be bad, it is how you use it. The same is true for the use of technology which invaded wineries and vineyards - allowing the production of wines with a lower quantity of faults - today seen as a way to pervert the nature of wine, therefore a troublesome subject to which no one however renounces. The same is true for the use of chemistry, while forgetting chemistry is a natural and integral part of wine making. Good or bad, depends by the use one makes of it.

 Maybe it is because of the bad use made in the past of the many enological tools and of new techniques, that today it is more and more frequent hearing about natural wines, although, for the sake of truth, it is not completely clear what is, or should be, a natural wine. There are many opinions about this and not all of them agree in many aspects: there are those who say a natural wine must be produced with no human intervention - except, of course, for the essential operations of harvesting and vinification - others can tolerate the use of some chemical products in vineyards or controlling the vinification process. In other words, for many a natural wine must be produced with an ancestral vinification, almost a primitive process, for others it simply is the limitation of chemical and synthetic substances, including selected yeasts and sulfur dioxide. The latter - we should not forget - is however part of the vinification process, as it is a byproduct of alcoholic fermentation, therefore, yeast makes sulfur dioxide by itself. In other words, there cannot be a wine in which sulfur dioxide is completely absent.

 Let's go back to the subject of wine and events associated to the beverage of Bacchus. It is undeniable today the subject of the so called natural wines is very fashionable, it has become the only “belief” among people considered as experts. It is not however clear whether the interest around natural wines is because of noble healthy reasons (a healthy product is of course always preferred) or it is just another commercial speculation or eventually a step backward in the past which, as such, cannot come back again, but in memories only. Events about wine have necessarily had to consider this new fashion. Whether in the past everyone disdained the wines today considered as natural - because they were too similar to the coarseness of the so called “rural wines” - while exalting the ones produced with the wonders of technology and progress, today we see the very opposite trend. Today, in trade fairs and wine exhibitions producers are very proud when they can tell their wines are natural.

 One thing frequently found in the so called “natural wine” - and the same was in the past for the so called “organic wines” - is the presence of some defects, and sometimes they are also quite evident. And when you tell the producer about the presence of a defect, after the initial embarrassment, the answer is always the same: «well, you know, this is a natural wine». As they would try to state natural necessarily means defect. Not all “natural” wines are of course characterized by defects: there are many producers out there who make use of a natural approach and have widely proven you can make great wines by limiting the use of technology or chemical products. In other words, it is how you use a method to make it good or bad. The annoying fact of this, is when a defect is justified with a presumed quality. A defect is always and however a defect, no matter what. And if natural means a wine with defects, then - maybe - the natural approach is not compatible with quality, a factor however essential for the agreeability of a wine. And also a defect, no matter how natural it is, is never pleasing, despite justifications or excuses.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 95, April 2011   
A Natural DefectA Natural Defect  Contents 
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