We are featuring a new, exciting but also controversial movement in the wine industry – the “Natural Wine” movement.
By definition, a “natural wine” is more than just an organic or biodynamic wine. An organic wine is only made from grapes grown organically, without any chemical fertilizers, but it could still be manipulated somewhat chemically or physically.
Natural wine is one step ahead of that – free from chemical or physical manipulation during the winemaking process. Usually from low-yielding vineyards, the wine has minimal or no filtration at all and contains only a minimal amount of sulphites. It is typically more inconsistent over different vintages and should reflect the terroir and climate of the vintage a lot better than ordinary wines.
By Kevin Ho
Photos by Yman Hui
Here we are introducing three natural wines from different regions, all of which are made from organic grapes and in accordance with “natural wine” principles.
- Cotillon des Dames 2009 by Jean-Yves Peron, Vin de France
Cepage : Jacquere and Altesse
Alcohol level : 11.5%
Production volume: 800 bottles / year
This is NOT your ordinary white wine; it is deeply golden orange, translucent and cloudy rather than clear. This is thanks to two special methods: maceration with skins (skins left to ferment with the pulp) coupled with *pigeage. These processes add colour and tannins from the grape skin. Tasted blindfolded, you might guess it is a red.
It tastes slightly oxidative, which is not a fault, but this wine’s typical style. The bouquet is of honey, marmalade, and sharply floral. The body is full, structure robust with obvious tannins to support, and acidity is pleasant. Aftertaste is rather dry but long lasting and peculiar with strong but round tannins like that of a dramatic red such as a Barolo. Of such unique character, it should pair perfectly with a dish of grilled pork loin.
- Saperavi 2007 by Pheasants’ Tears
Alcohol level: 12.8%
Production volume: 8000 bottles / year
This wine is produced by ancient techniques still practised in Georgia. The major difference with other wines is that fermentation takes place in an eathware known as “kveri”, an amphora like structure buried into the ground. Vinification starts from extracting juice from grapes manually and throwing everything including grape skins inside these buried vessels that are then sealed with beeswax.
Saperavi means dye, its colour is almost black and opaque, thus known as “Black wine”. It goes through an extensive period of maceration with skins and manual *pigeage. The nose is earthy, with notes of pomegranate, blackcurrant and black truffle. The body is full and structure is strong with round juicy tannins combined with fresh and balanced acidity. Full flavours of blackcurrant, toasted almond, and nice minerality towards finish. The aftertaste is long lasting and lingering. It is refreshingly different from other wines. Grilled lamb will be a perfect match.
- Le Lion de Roccapina by Domaine Pero Longo 2007
Alcohol level: 13%
Production volume: 9000 bottles / year
After two dramatically different wines, our third is closer to a typical modern wine. From the extreme south of Corsica, it is made from biodynamically grown Nielluccio grapes, a variety thought to be brought by Genovese immigrants and related to Sangiovese, though this is still debated. The vinification process is rather modern, with cold maceration (about 30 days, also with *pigeage) and temperature controlled fermentation. The wine spends 15-18 months in oak barriques.
The result is a classy wine. The colour is dark ruby, with a nose of ripe black fruits, jammy, and with notes of oak and spices. Body is full and structure is solid with noticeable tannins and healthy acidity. The overall impression is elegant but the finishing is quite tannic. Aftertaste is long, with notes of spicy oak, and the tannic feeling lingers. This wine can benefit from a few more years of ageing, but it is enjoyable now, and pairs well with most meat dishes.
* Constant punching down of the cap of skins that forms during fermentation.
Special thanks to:
La Cabane a Vin Tel: +852 6891 6971
Ghvino Tel: +852 2869 1805
Wine glasses from Spiegelau sponsored by Inhesion (Asia) Limited