Exploration 6-Pack: Natural Wines, Simply and Honestly Delicious
What is natural wine?
Here is a short, but by no means complete, nor completely agreed upon, list of criteria. It's almost always organic - no chemical fertilizers or pesticides used in the vineyard. Sometimes it is biodynamic - organic but with the addition of controversial methods that are often scientifically unproven, but anecdotally seem to make the soil and plants healthier. Grapes are usually hand harvested. Ambient yeasts ferment the grape must. Often it's not fined or filtered. Generally no new oak. Little to no additions of SO2. Nothing added and nothing taken away.
There is no legal definition of natural wine; wine-makers, sommeliers, distributors, and wine retailers who either specialize in this category or perhaps just have a section devoted to these wines don't always agree on what is and what isn't natural. So then why does the category exist if experts haven't codified it and continue to disagree on the finer points? Because by and large those that care about this category agree for the most part what belongs and what doesn't. It mostly comes down to levels or degrees.
This Exploration Pack includes six bottles of natural wine as I see the category:
- Small producers that work the land and grow all their own grapes
- Small producers that have contracts with farmers who follow organic farming
- Nothing added except minimal use of SO2
- Nothing taken away
Some of these wines are not that different in aromas, flavors, or textures from some conventionally produced wines. Others are very different: funky aromas, wild flavors, edgy or rustic textures, sediment in the bottle. There are some wines in this pack that will take you to a place you didn't know wine could go. You may like them, you may not, but these are all simple, honest, and alive with personality. I happen to think they are all delicious.
This Exploration pack is discounted at a smidgeon more than 15% off regular prices. No further discounts apply.
Les Grandes Vignes 2019 Bulle Nature Blanc
30% Chenin Blanc, 30% Groslot Gris, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Chardonnay. Ripe apples, melon, tangerine, vaguely herbal with a touch of tomato leaf. Light bodied Pét-Nat that delivers a good pop with persistent bubbles and a clean finish. Organic.
Forlorn Hope 2020 Queen of the Sierra White
Chardonnay, Verdelho, and Muscat. Apples, lemon, citrus, spice, and delicately floral. This unusual white blend expresses itself in a most straightforward manner with focused aromas, clean flavors with excellent concentration, and a long finish. Aged in stainless steel and used oak, no new oak was used. Organic.
Ricci 2019 Colli Tortonesi Timorasso "Derthona"
100% Timorasso. Golden Delicious, honey, acacia, almond, green tea, and wet stones, flinty. Very complex and thought provoking orange wine. There is an underlying richness to this wine, yet the finish is dry, with gentle tannins - it’s also long. Left on the skins for three days, fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees for 12 or more months. Organic.
Lapierre, M. 2019 Raisins Gaulois
100% Gamay. Strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, and spice. What an exuberant bottle of red! No tannins, just juicy from start to finish. Great for grilled and simple foods - chicken, pork, burgers, salmon, veggie dishes, or just sip while contemplating what to cook. Bright and delicious! Organic.
Abbia Nòva 2020 Cesanese del Piglio #Senzavandalism
100% Cesanese. Bing Cherries - fresh and baked, Italian plum, kirsch, almond, red-skin peanut, and an underlying sense of newly turned garden soil. Subtle at first but opens up quickly with ripe red fruits that retain a bright tartness. The wine is not shy of tannins and pairs best with beef, a ragú of pork, or sharp cheeses. Organic.
Forlorn Hope 2019 Queen of the Sierra Red
Zinfandel, Barbera, Tempranillo, Trousseau, and Mondeuse. Boysenberry, cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry, floral, and stoney. Medium-bodied red, that is deliciously juicy and lip-smackingly crushable. Fermented in separate lots and blended, aged in stainless steel and used oak, no new oak is used. Organic.
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