What to drink this week
The natural-wine movement, which emerged from obscurity in about 2010, divides the normally rather placid wine world like no other issue and arouses very strong feelings. For some, it’s essentially a wild-eyed religious cult, a hair-shirted abhorrence of all the modern conveniences and techniques that make wine pleasant to drink. For others, it’s the cutting edge of the move towards pure expression of terroir, with nothing left out or put in.
Harry Eyres tastes some fresh and lively wines made without chemicals or additives
Why you should be drinking it
Natural wine goes beyond organic and biodynamic wine in its attempt to eschew not just chemical sprays, but also all additives, especially sulphur, which has been used since Roman times to limit oxidation and bacteriological spoilage. I don’t regard sulphur—despite its devilish connotations—as the root of all evil, but many natural wines, made with minimal SO2, taste remarkably fresh and lively and seem to be less hangover-inducing. Others taste like unclean cider or even, as one critic memorably put it, ‘like the arse-end of a farmyard’. These I avoid.
What to drink
At a recent tasting, Majestic showed its first natural wine. Le Naturel Bodega Aroa Navarra 2017 (below, available from July, £11.99/£9.99 mix six; www.majestic.co.uk) has an attractive inky nose with appealing pure fruit and liveliness on the palate. Also from Spain, the classy Recaredo Brut de Brut 2007 (£44.60; www. lescaves.co.uk) is still remarkably pale and youthful-looking as well as being beautifully full and fresh. It shows that vintage Cava can be a match for vintage Champagne. Frank Cornelissen on the north slope of Etna makes some of the most rewarding natural wines of all: try Munjebel Rosso 2014 (£28.99; www. raeburnfinewines.com), with its beautiful strawberry delicacy and fine acidity.