Thursday, April 19, 2012
The (possibly unwise) natural wine challenge
You know those occasions when you're so sure you're right you'll do anything to prove it? Like the day on Twitter a while back when everyone was slagging off natural wine and I said (rashly) "I'm sure I can show you some natural wines that you'll like".
"OK" they said. "Do it!" Which is how I'm ending up next Thursday (tube strike permitting) at The Dock Kitchen in west London presenting a selection of natural wines to a collection of high profile sceptics.
Not that I'm unduly worried, it has to be said. If they're determined not to like anything I show them there's not a great deal I can do about it. But if they put their prejudices aside I think they'll find wines that are really enjoyable.
I tasted a selection with Guillaume Aubert of Aubert & Mascoli this week who is going to be one of the few fellow natural wine fans on the panel and these are two that he thought would persuade the doubters. One will, one won't, I'm inclined to think.
The one I have best hopes for is a Bergerac, Le Jonc-Blanc ClassIK 2008 from Isabelle Carles and Franck Pascal, a slightly rustic Bordaux-style blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with no chemical additions, no chaptalisation, no artificial yeasts and the minimum of sulphur. I wasn't quite sure if it would make the grade when I first tasted it - there was a slightly funky edge to it - but after lugging it round London all day and re-opening it that night I was impressed with how well it had survived and how versatile it was - sailing through cheese and olives and and a green salad with a garlicky vinaigrette with great aplomb. I just kept on wanting to refill my glass. Who said natural wines are fragile? Green to amber on my ratings (right).
The other wine - a 2009 Le Genêts Savennières from Damien Laureau I'm not so sure about. It's very mineral and austere - classic Savennières. So why make life difficult for yourself? I'd put it in the amber category but not just because it's natural. Savennières is always challenging. The back label recommends it with pike which I doubt if many people cook these days, even in France. It would be great with raw and simply cooked seafood though. Maybe with sushi.
Anyway I'm working away on my other choices. The Bergerac might make the grade but only if I can't find a suitable Bordeaux which I'd rather do as I think it would carry more clout. I'll keep you posted . . .