‘Natural wine’ advocates say everything about the modern industry is ethically, ecologically and aesthetically wrong – and have triggered the biggest split in the wine world for a generation.
By Stephen Buranyi
If you were lucky enough to dine at Noma, in Copenhagen, in 2011 – which had just been crowned as the “best restaurant in the world” –you might have ordered one of its signature dishes: a single, raw, razor clam from the North Sea, in a foaming pool of aqueous parsley, topped with a dusting of horseradish snow. It was a technical and conceptual marvel intended to evoke the harsh Nordic coastline in winter.
But almost more remarkable than the dish itself was the drink that accompanied it: a glass of cloudy, noticeably sour white wine from a virtually unknown vineyard in France’s Loire Valley, which was available at the time for about £8 a bottle. It was certainly an odd choice for a £300 menu. This was a so-called natural wine – made without any pesticides, chemicals or preservatives – the product of a movement that has triggered the biggest conflict in the world of wine for a generation.