Natural wine - an example

Domaine du Causse d'Arboras, L'Autochtone, St Guilhem le Desert IGP  15.00€

There's a bit of a fashion for Vin Nature or natural wines these days.  The problem is, there are no precise regulations about what constitutes vin nature and an element of laissez-faire prevails so that each wine grower has their own idea.  Jeanjean, known as one of the big vineyard owners of the Languedoc, with 260 hectares of vines, have decided to take the plunge and have just released their first vin nature, made from Cinsaut, grown on their newest estate, Domaine du Causse d'Arboras, up in the hills above the village of Arboras.  If you stand in their vineyards, you are looking straight at the face of the Mont St Baudile.

Matthieu Carliez, the winemaker, explained that they have followed vey strict criteria, so the grapes are handpicked and absolutely nothing is added to the juice, no yeast, no enzymes, no sulphur.  He explained that it is essential to start with absolutely healthy grapes and they put them into a vat full of co2, which will stop any nasty micro-organisms doing undesirable things.  The wine is racked, and bottled early, at the beginning of the year as they are rather nervous about keeping it in vat without the addition of any SO2.  It is much safer in bottle.  And I thought it tasted absolutely delicious.  Cinsaut makes for lovely fresh cherry flavours so that the palate is perfumed with a balancing streak of tannin providing some backbone, with a fruity finish.  And it is available from Jeanjean’s rather smart shop, Vignerons et Passions in St. Felix de Lodez. 

Vignerons et Passions
St. Felix de Lodez 34725 


Alan March said…
"Bit of a fashion". Really? It's been around for 40 years, has thousands of producers across increasing numbers of countries, growing markets. It's more than a bit and no longer a fashion.
Whether making SO2 free wine counts as natural is of course debatable as there is no definition. However, there is really much more to it than just sulfites, eg organic production, no other additives etc. Whether big companies really can do this? Perhaps, certainly Mas and Bertrand have tried.
Credit that they are trying to clean up the winemaking progress, and a sign that natural wine has begun to influence the wine market far beyond a fashion.
When did you actually first hear the term 'natural'? I agree that I was a bit dismissive describing it as a bit of a fashion but you must admit that it is talked about a lot more now than it ever was, even five years ago. It certainly didn't feature in the MW syllabus in the late 1970s! And as you say, the problem is that there is no definition or regulations to govern it - it all depends on the individual producers.
Alan March said…
I first heard of it long before then Rosemary. Jeff made his first SO2 free year in 2003, he was certainly not the first.
The impact has been much wider on the conventional producers etc in the last 8-10 years for sure as it has become more widely known about. But Feiring's first book was 2008, there were natural wine bars in Paris many years before that.
It was actually you that helped me become more involved and impressed by natural wines with your article on Mas Coutelou :)

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