Wine Club – August 2023
Istinto Naturale, 2022
Istinto Naturale is a coastal winery, on the very Western tip of Sicily, right in the heart of historic Marsala country. However, Marsala, a sweet, oxidative wine with an almost infinite ageing capacity, is not the name of the game for this family estate. As they tell it, they’ve been making dry white wines for a few generations with the grapes off their grandparents’ small patch of land. The current generation is doing things the old way, employing respectful organic farming without chemicals, and limiting intervention to strictly mechanical movements in the cellar. A slice of tradition with a dash of intuition. This fresh, light, and saline white is a welcome change from heavier orange wines for once: a good reminder that natural wines come in all colours, and that’s partly why we love them.
Glow Glow, 2022
Every so often, a pet’ nat’ comes along that is the perfect balance between actual pressure (meaning actual bubbles), fruit quality (meaning character, juiciness, and acidity in perfect balance), and precision (meaning – despite how hard it is to control a spontaneous fermentation that finishes inside the bottle – here nothing veers off the path). Glow Glow’s newest addition to their impressive line-up of wines is this Pink Fizzy, which is all of those things and more. Longtime members know we are fans, and this tart, luscious sparkling wine, made of a red and white blend, is no different. A versatile wine for enjoying solo or with friends. It can accompany food or be drunk on its own. It’s one of those grab-and-go, keep-in-the-fridge wines with no complications: an easy drink, which is part of why we love natural wines.
La Perdida, 2022
Nacho Gonzalez from La Perdida is one of the longest standing natural winemakers in all of Spain. A biologist by training, he has been making natural wines in Valdeorras, the hottest of the Galician winemaking regions, for over a decade. Year after year, his vinifications from the typical Galician rural landscape – characterised by very small plots of vineyard, known as minifundismo – are some of Spain’s most captivating. Not only that, but he is one of the founding members of a country-wide organisation of natural winemakers that puts on some of country’s best wine fairs each year in Barcelona and Madrid. This orange wine from 100% godello is a masterclass in balance between rich texture and bright acidity – a heightened wine, highly expressive in the way only natural wines can be – which is part of why we love them.
Carrousel de Tête, 2022
Carrousel de Tête operates first and foremost as a graphic design studio with a focus on the wine industry of Pfalz, the famous southern German wine region. It was here that, in 2018, they came into a small plot of old vines: just big enough for it to be feasible to make and market wine from, but small enough to keep it a creative, relatively stress-free endeavour. This sense of levity is crystal clear in 2022’s Orange, a mixture of highly aromatic Muskateller and Scheurebe with the region’s golden-child grape, Riesling, some of which is bought from winemaker friends. It’s a flower and lemon-rind bomb, with a touch of fresh, minty, vegetal notes and a strong, muscled backbone. A reminder of the fun that comes along with letting go of traditional wine norms – which is part of why we love natural wines.
Atlas Land, 2022
The southern coast of Portugal, known as the Algarve, is touristic and beautiful, but not well-known as a wine region. Good thing it doesn’t have to be for artisanal, independent, small-scale wineries to crop up anyway. Atlas Land is a brand-new project, making limited bottles from a handful of vineyards since 2020. Oh! Amigo, a brand-new release, is from a small parcel just 4 kilometres from the Atlantic coastline, a field blend of about 95% white grapes and a smattering of reds. In a curious show of forward-thinking artistry, all the whites are destemmed and begin fermentation with a layer of the reds in whole cluster laid on top, to protect the wine in its delicate first moments. New upon new upon new – a reminder of how exciting the accelerating world of natural wine is, which is part of why we love it.
Francois de Nicolay, 2019
T.N.W.C. mainstay François de Nicolay is back at it again, this time hitting the road from his native Burgundy to head North. Of course, he would never turn his back on the Burgundian grape varieties, so although this wine is from Alsace, the historically-contested France/Germany borderland, it is still made of 100% Pinot Noir. Where in cloudy Burgundy, Pinot Noir might be darker, wilder, and earthy, Alsace gets quite a bit more sunlight hours during the growing season, making for sun-kissed, fruitier, and airier versions of the grape. Don’t get us wrong: this wine packs a punch, as it should coming from a heavyweight natural winemaker like François, but it is also a more approachable, plumper version of a Pinot. Repeat after us: we must take fruit-forward wines more seriously! They’re part of what we love about natural wine.