Lettie on Natural Wines

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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:26 pm

Hoke wrote:Please understand, Bryan, not attempting to diss you at all---as I said, I honor those who go a little further, those who push the envelope, those who explore. But "natural wine" was never anything more than a contrived tag to sell something that never existed in the first place. It was a tag devised, oddly enough, by the very same people who are the quickest to deride marketing tags used by other people.

Hoke, we are agreeing just not communicating the fact that we are in agreement very well.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Thomas » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:08 pm

It is rather ridiculous, isn't it Hoke?

What makes me crazy isn't so much the winery operators who claim the mantle, but the ones who write about "natural" wine. They have no idea what it is to produce a product, but they KNOW how it should be done. Of course, they know; they visited a vineyard and winery and worked a whole afternoon to gain experience. They can also taste terroir--it speaks to them, even if it came out of a bottle of what appears to be orange juice.

Just makes me crazy.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:46 am

Brian...not arguing with you; just railing against the naturalistas. :)

Thomas: no end of snake oil hucksters and put-your-hand-on-the-radio evangelists, eh? And let's face it, wine attracts both predators and willing prey. :lol:
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Steve Slatcher » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:54 am

My understanding it that most definitions of natural wine DO include viticulture - they start with the premise of organic of biodynamic viticulture, and layer on the vinification restrictions,.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:56 am

With all due respect, gentlemen, I do think that you're being a bit too literal-minded here. Should organic agriculture not be considered organic if they use an inorganic chemical like water to irrigate their crops? These terms are being used as shorthand and the users are free to define their argot as they will. The problem, of course, is that there is no standardizing body to ensure conformity of usage, so "natural" wine is an entirely slippery term. I'll also note, in passing, that most of the people making those so-called "natural" wines that I drink don't use the term themselves. As usual, there are those concerned with semantics and those concerned with results.

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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Thomas » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:46 am

Mark Lipton wrote: As usual, there are those concerned with semantics and those concerned with results.

Mark Lipton


So true.

With the exception of DOC-type controls, I know of no facts dictating without exception how wine should be produced, but there are scores of opinions on the process. Opinions are fodder for those focused on semantics because, well, opinions are built on words and sentences, and as any writer of them will tell you, words have consequences.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Brian Gilp » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:34 am

Steve Slatcher wrote:My understanding it that most definitions of natural wine DO include viticulture - they start with the premise of organic of biodynamic viticulture, and layer on the vinification restrictions,.


This is what Eric Texier wrote on the topic and the connection to viticulture in 2010. I bolded the part about viticulture's relation to natural wines. This seems to be a less clear cut than other definitions I remember reading in the past that clearly separated viticulture from natural wines.

No official definition right now.

At the very beginning of the movement (end of the 80s, early 90s), the credo was :
No addition, no subtraction. Only fermented grape juice. And of course no preservatives like SO2.

These days it would more like : no addition or substraction that could affect any of the biological or chemical transformations BEFORE bottling.

Most of the "natural wine" winemakers are using light SO2 addition (10 - 40 ppm total addition) and sometimes fining or filtration at bottling, especially for export markets.
Of course no watering, chaptalization, commercial yeasts, enzymes, tannins, lisozymes, lactic bacterias, organic acids, not speaking of potassium ferrocyanides...

There are still some purists that are bottling totally natural.

Organic growing is very often factually related to natural wines but not automatically.
Some self-named natural wines are not made from organically grown grapes.
Most of the wines produced from organically grown grapes are not natural : mostly due to the use of SO2 prior to fermentation and therefore the use of commercial yeasts.

But not using commercial yeasts on grapes treated with synthesis fongicides can be tricky...

No value judgment here.
I won't say that my wines are better because they are made "naturally".
I just feel better doing it this way.
Very selfish in fact...

We had this discussion on an other board about acidification with verjus.
The means that I use for growing grapes and making wines are very important to me.
Probably totally useless for anyone else.

Eric Texier
Vigneron à Brézème


http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=22819#p301800
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Thomas » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:46 am

"No value judgment here.
I won't say that my wines are better because they are made "naturally".
I just feel better doing it this way.
Very selfish in fact...The means that I use for growing grapes and making wines are very important to me.
Probably totally useless for anyone else."


Spot on attitude. Too bad that attitude can't be passed along to wine writers and consumers, but then, if that were to happen, what would the wine-centric Internet have to talk about? ;)
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Ohhhhhhhhh...

Postby TomHill » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:48 am

Hoke wrote:
Please understand, Bryan, not attempting to diss you at all---as I said, I honor those who go a little further, those who push the envelope, those who explore. But "natural wine" was never anything more than a contrived tag to sell something that never existed in the first place. It was a tag devised, oddly enough, by the very same people who are the quickest to deride marketing tags used by other people.


Ohhhhh...that Hoke is, indeed, a very wise man. I think this goes to the very heart of the "natural" wine discussions. I find it interesting that some/many of the natural wine proponents
permit any sort of manipulation out in the vnyd...but none are allowed in the wnry. It seems a bit hypocritical to me.
That said.....some/many of the "natural" winemakers I know don't wear their "naturalness" on their sleeve. It is their sincere/honest belief that their "natural" winemaking
techniques (to what ever degree) is simply makes a more interesting/better wine. They're not doing it for marketing reasons...it's simply what they believe in.
Like Hoke, I enjoy trying wines from those who push the envelope/explore. It is particularly relevant to skin-contact whites, and their subset, "orange" wines. This is a genre
that sometimes leaves me scratching my head (or somewhere, anyway) in puzzlement. Some, made w/ extended skin contact, are so phenolic in character that they're not a great pleasure
to drink. Whether it'll catch on or not, I'm not sure. They do make some interesting wines, though. Of course, sweet Alice does not regard this technique as a manipulation.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:05 pm

With all due respect, gentlemen, I do think that you're being a bit too literal-minded here.


Love it when a renowned Ph.D and Professor of Chemistry tells an English/Education major that he's being "too literal minded." :D

I often felt that way when my Chem teachers insisted I learn exactly the right formula for all those annoyingly variant carbon/hydrogen/oxygen compounds. And don't get me started on that damned table of elements thing. Precision and correctness are far too literal minded!

What, pray tell, does "too literal minded" mean in this context? Say anything you want? Don't pay attention to what I'm saying, understand what I mean? That comes uncomfortably close to an evangelical license to "make stuff up."

As an extremely amateur linguist (or to be perhaps more literal, should I say 'linguophile") I most certainly understand co-opting existing words to use for new, vague and inexact meanings of something that did not exist before. It's easy, it's natural for us humans, and it works well (and enrichens our living language as a side effect!). But to take a term and eradicate its original basic meaning to replace it with----essentially, thousands of possible meanings and therefore not a singular one... can't be cavalierly dismissed or discarded as being "too literal minded".

Both Thomas and I, and I would hasten to add Brian to the mix, I think with his approval, simply want a somewhat less murky, opaque, vague, rambling definition of what some of these people are talking about. I know that this is a process, and that we need to penetrate through the miasma and mystical mumbo-jumbo of metaphoria as best we can while these thousands of meaningless and distracting, if not magical-thinking based, concepts get hammered out, so that we can get to a point of clearly understanding what the hell all these people are talking about. Or what they mean, versus what they say.

Of course, Thomas already said this with his wonderfully succinct and snark-free "words have consequences" so I'm just blathering (not uncommon, eh?) :lol:

Oh, and is it possible to audit your class in "Non-literal Chemistry 101"? Sounds fascinating. :twisted:
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:51 pm

Hoke wrote:
What, pray tell, does "too literal minded" mean in this context? Say anything you want? Don't pay attention to what I'm saying, understand what I mean? That comes uncomfortably close to an evangelical license to "make stuff up."


Hoke, must I really spell it out? Literally??? :twisted: OK, here goes: as you point out, no wine is natural since winemaking is an unnatural act. Thus, if we stick to the literal meaning of natural, "natural wine" is an oxymoron. Since that it is a semantic dead end, we should look instead into what we think that the intended usage is, essentially taking a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist attitude toward the meaning of the word. Howzat?

Both Thomas and I, and I would hasten to add Brian to the mix, I think with his approval, simply want a somewhat less murky, opaque, vague, rambling definition of what some of these people are talking about. I know that this is a process, and that we need to penetrate through the miasma and mystical mumbo-jumbo of metaphoria as best we can while these thousands of meaningless and distracting, if not magical-thinking based, concepts get hammered out, so that we can get to a point of clearly understanding what the hell all these people are talking about. Or what they mean, versus what they say.


I'm down with that, though I have to say that I find that I care little for what people mean by the term.

Oh, and is it possible to audit your class in "Non-literal Chemistry 101"? Sounds fascinating. :twisted:


One of my pet theories is that organic chemistry is acquired in much the same way that language is, so perhaps I could do a course in non-literal chemistry. "Metaphoric compounds" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Thomas » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:20 pm

Oddly, we have struck agreement--I think!

From my perch, this argument is never ending because it is built largely on preferences rather than, to put it scientifically and not metaphorically, hard-fast rules. :)

How one goes about growing grapes or producing wine is not exactly the same as understanding how grapes grow and how wine is produced. The former is how we choose to do things; the latter will happen whether or not we choose to do anything. What that means to me is that the argument over how it should be done (especially when made by people who don't actually do the work) is simply posturing to feed one's ego.

No matter how people try to guide our aesthetics in their direction, aesthetics is/are personal. Only by establishing standards can one leave aesthetics behind for objectivity. Even the results that you speak of, Mark, are interpretive. I can think of no better example of that fact than the recent orange wine fad (which isn't so recent, since that was likely close to the color of all white wine thousands of years ago, before technology helped clean up what was a mess of volatility).
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:23 pm

Hoke, must I really spell it out? Literally??? :twisted: OK, here goes: as you point out, no wine is natural since winemaking is an unnatural act. Thus, if we stick to the literal meaning of natural, "natural wine" is an oxymoron. Since that it is a semantic dead end, we should look instead into what we think that the intended usage is, essentially taking a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist attitude toward the meaning of the word. Howzat?



Howzat? Zat is pretty impressive. Love it when you turn my own prejudices against me. <snicker> I can retort only with the road to hell is paved with what we think intended usage could be. But enough. As a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist I yield to your rejoinder. Well played; well played.

I'm down with that, though I have to say that I find that I care little for what people mean by the term.


Well, yeah. And I'm down with that. I actually care less than I pretend to in most cases. (That's me not being literal.)

One of my pet theories is that organic chemistry is acquired in much the same way that language is, so perhaps I could do a course in non-literal chemistry. "Metaphoric compounds" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?


Hmmm. Now that is an intriguing thought. In the sense that chemistry is the study of how little essential thingamabobs are variously and sundrily interconnected with each other and all you have to do is sorta move around those connecting parts and make entirely new stuff out of different parts of old stuff? And in that sense, if not many others, OC is similar to the accretion and development of language? To repeat: Hmmm. And I do like the reverberation of "Metaphoric Compunds."

Something that I've been wondering about, after putting together some visual aids on fermentation and distillation for students and using the molecule models of different C and H aggregations, along with depictions of molecules and chain molecules and enzymatic action and all that stuff in your arcane world: do all chemistry profs play with Tinkertoys as children? (And lets not even get into the whole causation or correlation thing. That would get us back into metaphorical realms.)

And thanks, Mark. 8)
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:31 pm

Thomas wrote:Oddly, we have struck agreement--I think!

From my perch, this argument is never ending because it is built largely on preferences rather than, to put it scientifically and not metaphorically, hard-fast rules. :)

How one goes about growing grapes or producing wine is not exactly the same as understanding how grapes grow and how wine is produced. The former is how we choose to do things; the latter will happen whether or not we choose to do anything. What that means to me is that the argument over how it should be done (especially when made by people who don't actually do the work) is simply posturing to feed one's ego.

No matter how people try to guide our aesthetics in their direction, aesthetics is/are personal. Only by establishing standards can one leave aesthetics behind for objectivity. Even the results that you speak of, Mark, are interpretive. I can think of no better example of that fact than the recent orange wine fad (which isn't so recent, since that was likely close to the color of all white wine thousands of years ago, before technology helped clean up what was a mess of volatility).


Wait! Is this cutting the Gordian Knot with Occam's (or Ockham's) Razor? That's putting it metaphorically rather than scientifically, of course.

Nub: "the argument over how it should be done (especially when made by people who don't actually do the work) is simply posturing to feed one's ego." Oh, a hit. A palpable hit.

Observation: I wish I were as attentive to the differentiation between aesthetics and objectivity as you, Thomas. Albeit it also must be a pain in the ass sometimes to change the focus of vision in your glasses. (That's, like, a metaphor.) :D

Anyway, nicely summated.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Thomas » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:56 pm

Hoke:

I must be a literalist :twisted:

But it is a pain to change focus, especially at a wine judging--oh my, especially there.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Eric Texier » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:18 pm

Naturae
A very good exemple of so called natural wine because made without additive or manipulations (???) but made from conventional grapes.
Or how a big negociant tries to surf the natural wine wave.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:34 pm

Eric Texier wrote:Naturae
A very good exemple of so called natural wine because made without additive or manipulations (???) but made from conventional grapes.
Or how a big negociant tries to surf the natural wine wave.
Cheers
Eric


Haven't tasted (or even seen these), Eric. I will confess to having a fondness for the "terroir" wines of Bertrand, the Corbieres and the Tautavel from Rousillon Villages.

I would have little interest in the Naturae line, however, as it appears to me to merely be catering to a marketing opportunity rather than any sense of dedication to a tradition or expression of a new style.
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Re: Lettie on Natural Wines

Postby Victorwine » Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:30 am

Great discussion!

Throughout the evolution of the “modern” wine industry through the ages, it is “scary” to think of what would have happen to the industry if there were no “human interference”.

Salute
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