Obviously we would be grossly negligent as fair-minded individuals if we did not give a platform for the articulate effusions of the critics of natural wine. And so we give you the second in our occasional series by confirmed wine blogger, Panda Jerk-Show:
The natural wine movement embraces a necromantic biodynamic philosophy. One can only imagine the natural winemaker clad in druidical robes standing over a steaming vat of noxious fluid incanting strange spells. Mixing the worst of fundamentalist religion with inane superstition, pantheism and anti-science it is naturally without foundation – or sense of self-irony.
Nature created man who created chemicals, wherein it is always the corrective chemical process rather than a laissez-faire microbiological one that is to be encouraged. God gave man the wherewithal to intervene and perfect, and the more the wine is stripped of individual faults, the closer it becomes to an ideal product. If man is made in God’s image, then wine is made in man’s image. Perfection is the aggregate of concomitant interventions that prevent natural contamination. A clean wine is thus almost baptismally pure of its natural origin, or, to put it another way, denaturing wine is the natural order of things. Cleanliness in wine is truly next to godliness.
What still surprises me about natural wine is the number of people who are hoodwinked by this movement. Some have a political agenda, crypto-anarchists, zealots, others are dedicated followers of fashion, others are well meaning, confused individuals who have lost their way. Collectively, they represent a clear and present danger to the world of wine, for though the wines themselves are but a drop in the ocean, their profile – due to the relentless propaganda machine employed by these natural wine apologists – is widespread, a viral contamination that is threatening to spread out of control – just like a bacterially-compromised, wild yeast ferment.
Of course, despite the perceived increased popularity of “natural wines” the defenders of the faith have zero credibility. For does not Nietzsche say that the most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments? Whereof they know not, thereof they should speak not.
Who was it who also said that “the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” We should cleave to that strategy for only then will the message penetrate.
Here are my three favourite anti-natural wine quotes:
‘This wine couldn’t have died for it was never alive…’
‘He thinks mercaptans are an ingredient of winemaking…’
‘Not a cult winemaker, but an occult one…’
Ultimately, the story of natural wine is one of a calculated fraud on the public, the misrepresentation of natural wine as some form of real wine. It is quite clearly impossible to make a wine without additions, without manipulations, without thermo-vinification, and if it were possible, you would not thus be able to advertise it as natural. Accidental wine might be a more accurate description.
My modest proposal is to appoint a plenipotentiary for good taste who would install a system for rejecting these wines before they came to market. Micro-analysis by approved scientists in clinical laboratories will discern the many and varied flawed wines; and the selfsame flaws that the naturalistas invoke as the holy sign of a natural wine will be held to be wholly “unnatural” and deemed unfit for the purposes of the market.
To back this up we need more legislation to deprecate these aberrant wines. Enlightened Italian bureaucrats, for example, have thankfully grasped the nettle and come down hard on small individuals who predicate their entire existence on flouting the rules. A certain Mr Bellotti recently tried to set the utterly dangerous precedent of planting a peach tree in his vineyard, cross-contaminating his grapes with soft fruits – the folly! His wine (natural, of course) necessarily had its DOC status removed for such an infraction. Moreover, a couple of months ago a small wine shop was fined in Rome for advertising “natural wines”. A form of natural justice indeed! Strip away the word and you strip away the grand deception.
Yes, I am extremely keen to see more consumer acceptance panels convened with ever stricter criteria. Standards can be guaranteed as wines will be tasted by industry-insiders, honest folk with no political axe to grind whatsoever, and the wines properly rejected on the basis of colour, clarity, unusual aromas, over-distinctiveness and flagrant individuality.
Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have, asserted Emile Chartrier. Natural wine is the monomaniacal fixation of a small group of growers and a trendy commentariat. Without standards there can be no structure, without structure no hierarchy, without hierarchy no defined sense of right and wrong – the natural wine movement seeks to undermine all our cherished certainties – from industrial methods of farming and the freedom to use chemicals to make wine, to hijacking and distorting the very language that we use. You cannot affect moral superiority in all these areas when the only belief you truly espouse is the right to make vinegar.