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What are natural wines?

The demand for natural wines continues to grow around the world.  The wine press, wine lists in restaurant  wine bars and bloggers are full of references to natural wines. Yet there is no single, clear definition of a natural wine, it is open to the interpretation of the winemaker.

Wines, made from grapes grown in vineyards free from chemicals, with personality and expresses characteristics that can only have come from where the grapes were grown  It shows the skill of the winemaker to make the best wine from their local vineyards.

Natural Wines is a term that includes ecological, organic, biodynamic wines but the wine does not have to be in officially classified as either in order to be considered natural.

One reason why we have seen growth in demand for ‘natural wines’ because wine drinkers are looking for something new, not just wines that are commercial and made to a recipe.

Many wineries follow commercial trends copying what is already working.  This is understandable and makes business sense, however, it is important no to lose sight of what is unique to the wines from the area.

Natural wines is also a trend but if means an increase in demand for good quality wines with character at reasonable prices then I hope that more wineries follow this trend and give the market what it wants.

I recently took attended the inaugural ‘Mostra de Vins Singulars de la Marina Alta’, in Jesus Pobre, Denia. The idea behind this wine fair was to promote wines that had been made respecting the environment.

It was the idea of Mara Baño, owner of Les Freses winery in Jesus Pobre.  Her enthusiasm and energy resulted in wineries from all over Spain and beyond participating.  I was delighted to participate exhibiting natural wines from New Zealand, France and Italy.

It was a great success, consumers enjoyed the opportunity to meet the winemakers and taste many different wines that had something very important in common; each wine had its own style that reflected region from where they came.

Whether it was a Moscatel from Jesus Pobre, a biodynamic Bobal from Requena, a Tempranillo from Castilla Leon or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, each wine had its own style and character.

For many it was a great way to discover new wines and it reminded me of an article I read by Matt Kramer in the prestigious magazine The Wine Spectator where he wrote, “The greatest wines today are not, paradoxical as this may sound, the so-called great wines”.  It is often wines from regions that are not that well known that are some of the best in the world.

It is through the work and dedication of the type of winemakers who attended this fair in Jesus Probre that we might just see some really world class wines ‘natural wines’ being discovered.

So keep trying different wines because you never know when you will be tasting ‘greatness’. Find wines that are genuine with character.

Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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