Natural wine is so IN this year. Of course, ahead of the curve as always, we’ve been blowing a smoochy kiss to the wines of Mother Nature since the beginning. If you don’t believe me (or can’t remember, hic!) we’ve…
What is natural wine? That’s a good question, and one that the jury is still arguing over. But in general, the term natural wine is used to describe wines that have had minimal addition or input. The spectrum of what that looks like though is broad. From grapes produced biodynamically and then made using normal wine making methods, to wines that have never seen anything but sunshine and rain, the gamut of what constitutes a natural wine runs broad.
And now it’s truth serum time: we haven’t told you about every natural wine we have tried. That’s because some of the natural wines we have tasted have been so murky and gloopy they needed a knife and fork to work through.
So it was with a little trepidation that we popped into Rootstock Sydney, which bills itself as a wine festival of ‘. . .artisan, sustainable, authentic, natural, organic and biodynamic.’ Quite a mouthful of philosophy for a bottle of wine! Luckily the festival managed to hit that often elusive sweet spot by providing a variety of offerings – from something you’d proudly serve your mother-in-law to ‘did I just see something moving in my glass?’
The day started with breakfast. Not mung beans raised by moonshine on a bed of self-sprouting hemp, but a ‘Breakfast Wine’ (yes, that is what it calls itself) of 2013 Sauvignon Blanc by Patrick Sullivan ($39). An alarmingly lurid amber colour due to grape skin contact during the wine making process, but fortunately full of bright and spicy sunshine goodness. I won’t be partaking at daybreak anytime soon, but it would also be ideal as the sun sets.
From sunlight to twilight, the cycle of nature continued over to Moon Wines. Each wine is made with classical French leanings but they all taste unmistakably Australian. This honest reflection of varietals allowed the predominant flavour of each grape to shine. Our favourite was the elegant 2010 Marsanne ($31), just like drinking liquid honey – but in a good way.
Then finally a Wham! Bam! Wine from Brad Hickey a.k.a Brash Higgins (if my name was hickey, I’d use a pseudonym too), called ‘ZBO’ which is his cutesy-pie name for Zibibbo 2013 ($37), a zippy Italian number. And does it zip! So much zesty lemon on the nose your eyes almost water, then a slightly smoother lemon curd palate with spritzy ozone. This is the beach in a bottle (apologies to Seinfeld).
Overall, the whites seemed to be more consumer friendly, creating interest through techniques like amphora fermentation and extended skin contact to create interest without scariness.
Natural wine seems to give winemakers the opportunity to feel free and easy and groovy – to take liberties, push boundaries, experiment and have a bit of fun with the wines. This tinkering time means most of the wines were on the pricey side, but small price to pay to help the planet right?
Natural wine picks from Rootstock Sydney
- Patrick Sullivan 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($39) – Yarra Valley, Victoria
- Moon Wines 2010 Marsanne ($31) – Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
- Brash Higgins 2013 ZBO ($37) – Riverland, South Australia