At the moment I am away from sunny Mendoza and actually in the, rather less sunny, climate of London for the London Wine Fair (LIWF). While this year's LIWF has some great wines on exhibit -- including The Vines of Mendoza's own Recuerdo at booth 060! -- there were also some exciting events in the area over the weekend as well.
There were two big alternative wine fairs organized in London for the same week but focusing on organic, biodynamic and artisan wine producers.
The Real Wine Fair was a three day event with 170 international winemakers presenting organic and biodynamic wines www.therealwinefair.com. The two day RAW Fair focused on artisan wine producers (around 230), some of which have quite a cult following www.rawfair.com.
I spoke to Isabelle Legeron, Master of Wine and the organizer of RAW, about how she started in wine, and how she fell in love with the 'natural' wine movement and fell out of love with conventional winemaking:
When I decided that I was going to work in wine generally 12 to 13 years ago, I come from a winemaking family and I threw myself in the industry. I was really adamant I would be tasting and scoring lots of wines. It was a very intellectual journey: the more you know about wine, the more you love it and understand it and I was falling into that category of just being really intellectual.
Soon I started to become very bored. I realized that in the industry most of the wines I was tasting began to not excite me anymore. Every vintage out there was a bit of variation but I was basically trying the same wines year in and year out.
I looked into these natural artisan wines with a lot more detail and I realized there were a lot more wines out there that are not circulating in the mainstream.
Meeting these winemakers and growers I realized I knew nothing about wine... And I needed to connect again. That's why I started focusing on natural wines.
The 'natural wine' movement started in Paris where a trend for drinking wines from small producers who focused on natural production - with the least intervention possible - started to take hold. As followers of this movement have cropped up all over the globe, including New York and Tokyo, it's starting to take a more mainstream role. Although there is strictly no definition for 'natural' wine, I asked Isabelle to clarify what it means to most people in the movement:
Natural wine is made from grapes that are, at a very minimum, farmed organically or biodynamically, harvested manually and then made without adding / or removing anything during the vinification process. Ideally nothing is added at all but – at most – there might be a dash of SO2 at bottling. A handful of farmers manage to produce great wines without adding any SO2 whatsoever.
It's basically good old grape juice fermented into wine. It is still a small movement, which isn’t particularly well known but it is time to take it seriously.
It was good to see some representation of Argentina at both fairs including Bodega Cecchin.
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza but currently getting to grips with exciting cloudy and orange wine in the natural wine fairs of London.