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  Editorial Issue 107, May 2012   
A Fault is a Fault, AnywayA Fault is a Fault, Anyway  Contents 
Issue 106, April 2012 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 108, June 2012

A Fault is a Fault, Anyway


 It happens more and more to taste wines belonging to the so called natural family, a category not well defined yet and the producers themselves have sometimes different opinions about this subject. Many of these wines - and I am saying this with satisfaction and admiration - are of remarkable quality, well made and, last but not the least, without faults. On the other hand, some of them, as far as I can tell, are the majority, have pretty embarrassing faults, so gross that, not more than ten years ago, they would have been rejected by any wine lover. In these cases, it is very hard for me to consider a fault as a quality just because that wine is natural and for this reason it must be considered a product for the élite. In other words, I don't understand the glorification of natural wines by making this productive characteristic the only factor to be considered for the quality of a product: in case it is natural, it is better, no matter what.


 

 I am suspecting the so called natural wines represent - as a matter of fact - just another fashion in wine, a trend every expression and every product needs in order to stay alive and to catch attention. Wine is no exception: in the last twenty years we have seen so many fashions, born, grown up, died and, then, buried, forgotten, even denied. I like to point this out once again: it is not a matter of being contrary to natural wines; a genuine wine is however a goal to be favored and supported. I don't however subscribe to a current of thought, not so different from religious crusades supporting an “absolute truth” and that, most of the times, have the deplorable goal of hiding the “real truth”, by telling pathetic lies. I don't like arrogant currents of thought, rigid and deaf, always convinced to be on the right side, even rejecting those methods from which they come from, while not telling or denying their use even in case it is evident.

 It is too easy and utopian to say a natural wine is the one produced according to nature - and we should remember wine does not exist in nature - when everyone knows the only “natural journey” of grape juice is to become vinegar. The intervention of man is fundamental in order to affect the natural process in order to avoid what nature taught bacteria in order to ensure a chance of survival. This intervention, it is undeniable, is obtained by means of technology, those processes invented by man and which allowed him to better understand what a wine is and how it can be produced by interacting with natural processes. Denying technology and to consider it as the “absolute evil” is pure madness: even natural wines are the result of “technology”. Technology is not either good or bad, indeed, it is its use to make it good or bad. It would be like saying a straight razor is bad only because it is very sharp and can cause serious injuries, when - for the sake of truth - it is the most efficient tool for shaving and respectful for the skin. It is the use one makes of something to make it good or bad.

 Looking for new marketing opportunities, hopefully creating particular niche market, clearly is the goal of any business in order to ensure both notoriety and profits. There is nothing wrong about this, however when it is transformed into a speculation, as well as even trying to make others believe an evident fault is a quality, I find this to be unfair, even ridiculous. A fault is a fault, anyway, either of natural origin or created by the worst industrial technique, it however is a fault. I cannot accept as a justification a wine has a fault because it is “natural”. That fault - as such - is an undeniable factor detrimental to quality, something that, in any case, shadows the fact it is a “natural” wine, or of any other productive origin or technique. Not even the supposed genuineness makes me see that fault as acceptable: if for genuine wine is to be considered a wine having faults, instead of having an adulterated or industrial wine, I truly prefer having a glass of plain water.

 My job - lucky me - gives me the privilege of tasting and evaluating wines daily. Among the many, of course, there are wines their producers proudly classify as “natural”, or however produced with wine making and viticultural techniques that, in many cases, are defined as “natural”. Sometimes these wines have rough and embarrassing faults, oxidation affecting smell and taste, evident contamination of brettanomyces, evident faults caused by acetic bacteria and recalling vinegar, evident oxidation and faults giving the wine a not truly attractive appearance. These wines make me remind about those, that with an evident disgust, are defined as wines of the peasant, wines anyone would not ever wish to have in a glass. Some natural wines remind me about those kind of wines: not truly well made, faults making them ordinary and rough, not pleasing at all, from appearance to taste. I once also tasted a wine with an evident smell caused by an excess of sulfur dioxide. When I told the producer about it, the answer was quite bizarre: if you add just a little of sulfur dioxide, the wine gets oxidized and it can easily be affected by faults. This is not so different from syncretism applied to religions and philosophies: you simply take or reject what, in that specific moment, is better for you.

 Maybe it is because in wine - this is undeniable - there has been, and continues to be, a boring homologation of organoleptic qualities, result of research and wine making progress which allowed everyone to take advantage of technology and knowledge. I have no problem in admitting sometimes these technological mean are pretty cumbersome and hide, or eliminate, many typical qualities of grapes and of territories. I however have problems in accepting a fault as the expression of a grape or a territory. A fault, in my humble opinion, is simply the expression of the incapacity and inexperience of the one who made that wine, natural or industrial, it makes no difference. In case this must be seen as a quality, even worse, the revealed truth to a small group of wine lovers who - lucky them - are convinced to be the only ones who understood everything in wine, elected apostles of the benevolent Bacchus and repository of the absolute truth, this makes me smile. Let's clear this, once again: a genuine wine, expression of a territory and of its grapes, respectful for the health and wellness of consumers, is a noble and highly wished presupposition. It however does not change the fact a fault is a fault, anyway. Natural or industrial, it however is a fault.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 107, May 2012   
A Fault is a Fault, AnywayA Fault is a Fault, Anyway  Contents 
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