So a couple of months ago we got a sweet little deal from Groupon for the Winehos – a Wine Tasting at Artisan and Vine, we were not familiar with this bar, but what a gem it is!
Manager and Founder of Artisan and Vine and our host for the evening Kathryn O’Mara is a wealth of wonderful knowledge, and the bar has nabbed a few awards – Artisan and Vine is one of the top ten bars in London and recently won small independent merchant for the 2nd year running. Artisan and Vine support the sale of Natural and English wines, and all the wines we tasted retail for under £10. So did we learn a lot from Kathryn? Hell yes!
Rather than talk too much about the wines we thought we would give some passing words on what we learned.
First we learned how to taste wine. Realising each step begins with an S’s we have renamed the tasting process ‘five S’s’
- Swirl – in the glass this releases the aromas
- Sniff – smelling the aromas
- Sip – but don’t swallow, yet…
- Swish – the wine in your mouth for around 10 seconds
- Swallow – finally….
So what is a Natural Wine?
Although ‘Natural Wine’ is not legally defined in the EU it is known to be even more natural than most organic wines. How’s can this be you say? As Artisan and Vine put it ‘Within the EU, a certified “organic wine” only guarantees you organically grown grapes – the winemaker may add flavours (such as wood chips or caramel), stabilisers (such as sulphites), and preservatives during the wine making production.’ [from Artisan and vine website]
What makes Natural Wine different? A few key points:
- Wild yeast fermentation
- No pesticides
- Minimal Sulphites
- Hand harvested
A couple of thing stood out, one was the method of harvesting grapes, hand harvest vs machine marvest. Mass produced cheap wines are machine harvested which often means that not only do the machines pick the grapes, but everything in its path. This means but not limited to leaves, twigs, dirt and it has been reported from eye witness sources that a bike has turned up in the machine after harvesting on a commercial vine yard. (WTF??!)
The other, Sulphites. Sulphites are the responsible for that ache in the back of your head the next morning, and although they are a natural agent that occurs in wine, commercial vineyards use sulphites as an additive to arrest the fermentation process in wine making. In natural wine the artisan needs to carefully attend to the wine making steps, in knowing this additive cannot be used.
So that’s a little for your pocket about Natural Wine, the wines we tried were all wonderful, to mention a few:
Barrossa Valley, Australia
50% Semillon, 50% Chenin Blanc
Sicily’s Mount Etna
Catarratto Integro IGT, Ericina, 2009
Warden Abbot 2008
Warden Vineyards, Bedfordshire
Muller Thurgau 60% / Regner 40% (German Grapes)
Gribble Bridge 2009
– Post by Stark Miller –