Natural Wine, sort of like Organic used to be.

Most of my readers, y’all, haven’t heard I expect of Natural Wine. It’s a cultish little groundswell, like Organic was twenty/thirty years ago, as was agreeably pointed out the other day in Eric Asimov’s article in the Times. It’s like sourdough bread and farmhouse cheese: wine as a truly agricultural product, made by a farmer rather than the various employees of a brand; tasting like the grapes that made it, rather than the grapes chemically and mechanically adjusted to fit the palates of focus groups, and critics. It’s a bit utopian, really.

For years, there’s been this problem for hippies (that’s what most of my readers would still be called, where I live. It means city folk out of place, more or less; not second-homers, but lifers: eccentrics. Approximately two fifths of the population of Vermont would qualify): how do I buy wine politically and healthwise like the organic food I buy at the coop? Lord knows the coop wine buyer doesn’t know. How do you find sustainably farmed, small-farmer wine that preserves ancient traditional obscure endangered heirloom grape varieties and picturesque, arguably obsolete (I’ll say it:) artisanal techniques, etc. etc., that doesn’t break the usually very-meagre wine budget? Well, here you go: here’s the trick: it’s not the words Organic or Biodynamic, or a smiling cow on the label, or (Lord knows) Local (though there are some exceptions): it’s Natural Wine.

Not that it’s written on the label, or anything. Except in the name of the importer. Talk to your pusher. Tell ’em you’re innerested. Larn your local nat-wine importers. And be prepared for drink that may not taste like woody grape-juice concentrate—it’s sort of, rather, like the warty heirloom tomato(s) of wine. Vs., the perfect softball pink supermarket tomatoes. Or the canned San Marzanos. Knamean?

Incidentally, this is kind of the pre-game week warmup for the second annual nat-wine-writing extravaganza over at saignee.wordpress.com. Thirty-two days of essays by a really, really good lineup of wine writers, on divers subjects related to all this crap. If you take an interest, take a look.