In these eco-conscious times, the stakes just get higher and higher. Even wine can be more natural than you think. The so-called ‘natural wine’ phenomenon has its roots in France. The big daddy of natural wine was a Beaujolais-based fourth-generation winemaker and chemist called Jules Chauvet, who died in 1989. His exacting approach to winemaking and wine-tasting gave birth to the natural wine movement, which has gathered steam since his death. Paris is the naturalists’ epicentre and there are growing numbers of ‘natural wine’ bars in San Francisco, New York, Tokyo – and London.
The London phenomenon is largely thanks to one leading wine importer, Les Caves de Pyrene. As well as running tasting for the wine professionals, they also run the critically acclaimed wine bar Terroirs which is where most Londoners are likely to have encountered these ‘natural wines’. But Terroirs is not alone; otherwine bars with lists of ‘natural wines’ include Artisan & Vine, and Green & Blue.
The term ‘natural wine’ is a direct translation from the French vin naturel, but it seems to lose something in the journey across La Manche. Douglas Wregg, a director of Les Caves de Pyrene and self-confessed wine naturalist, describes the process simply as, ‘from vineyard to bottle, there’s nothing added in and nothing taken out’.