If It’s Not Natural Wine, It’s Fake Wine
At the risk of beating on a horse that is live and well, I'm compelled to remake a few points about the Natural Wine Movement that very much need to be driven home. The movement, which some will say does not exist, continues to see its most ardent champions display a most insidious form of promotion that is both disingenuous and dangerous.
I want to draw your attention to one of two "Natural Wine Fairs" that will be occurring in London in May. This one, promoted and organized by Doug Wregg, director of sales and marketing of Les Caves de Pyrene in London, is called "THE REAL WINE FAIR".
I think it is very important for readers to stop and consider the implications of the name of this fair before going any further because it is exhibit number one of the dismissive, derogatory and denigrating way in which so-called "Natural Wine" is not only be promoted by its loudest champions, but also by its quiet adherents who choose not to speak out against this kind of dishonest marketing.
I've often made the point that while no wine can honestly be called natural, the term in nonetheless used as a way to suggest that those winemakers who choose to categorize their product under this heading and those that champion wines they place under this bogus heading, do so in order to lift up their wines by demeaning all others that, if not "natural", must be something else—Un-Natural.
The very same idea is behind calling this upcoming event The REAL Wine Fair. Anyone who wants to defend the use of this term the way the term "Natural Wine" has been defended, by claiming that it does not imply all other wines are Un-Natural (or in this case "UN-Real"), will not even receive the deference of a quiet listen from me, nor should they from you.
It seems to me that you have to possess a pretty large sack of stupid toted around in a wheel-barrel of conceit in order to pronounce that your tasting will finally present to the public the "real" wines.
Wregg explains, in typical "natural" wine champion language, what tasters of these "real" wines will get at the "Real Wine Fair":
"Real wines taste of themselves and where they come from; they are not manipulated with chemicals and other winemaker’s tricks and tropes. They are more natural, more tasty (dare we say) and in the age of conformity and mediocrity they are probably “unreal”.
When champions of natural wine compare their objects of desire with the rest of the world, they inevitably, as Wregg does, imply that all other wines are manipulated with chemicals, created with trickery and, as a result, are unauthentic. In the above quote, Wregg is happy to go beyond implication and suggest that those wines that don't show up at his REAL WINE fair are mediocre.
Lest you think Mr. Wregg's practice of denigration marketing is an anomaly, consider the words of an organizer of another "natural wine" fair happening in London at precisely the same time as the "Real" wine fair. Isabelle Legeron, one of the most prominent promoters of these wines is organizing RAW: The Artisan Wine Fair, happening in London also in May. Consider this statement from Ms. Legeron:
"Most wines, including some Bordeaux crus classés, Champagne Grande Marques and household brands are nowadays no longer made exclusively from grapes. They are products of the agrochemical food industry. The concept of wine's 'poetry', its artistry or romantism, or indeed its exceptionality as a product with a sense of place is becoming rarer."
Suffice to say, Ms. Legeron is a charlatan who doesn't know what she is talking about. She condemns "most wines" as though she has tasted most wines or knows anything about "most wines". She doesn't. Yet in order to promote her favorite wines, she is compelled to denigrate and disfigure "most wines" as unauthentic and absent any connection with the place where the grapes are grown. This is not only hogwash, but the kind of statement made by an ideologue most willing to tear others down in order to lift herself up.
In an interview with himself on his own website for the "Real" wine fair, Wregg is asked why there is so much criticism of natural wine today and what motivates it. His response is a stunning portrayal of irony:
"There is a vogue for antagonistic and snide journalism that does not reflect well on the industry…Natural wine annoys some people who believe that it is a movement (it isn’t) and that its adherents have arrogated to themselves the moral high ground. That would be irritating if it were true; instead it is the overwrought columns and blogs of established critics and bloggers have lowered the tone of the debate by means of perpetual misdirection and mild to outright offensiveness."
Offensiveness? I direct you to the name of Mr. Wregg's Fair: The REAL Wine Fair.
Some have criticized "natural" wines for the example of some bottles to be terribly flawed, unable to travel, and for having the tendency to degrade in the bottle. I won't undertake this kind of criticism. Criticizing an entire category of wines for the sins of a few is akin to what Mr. Wregg and Ms. Legeron do in categorizing all but "natural" wines as less than authentic, dangerous to your health and lumping all other wines into a "industrialized" category. It is unworthy of anyone with a thinking cap nearby.
Yet as long as the champions of this movement continue to engage in their unprecedented brand of Denigration Marketing for the sake of selling wine, they can continue to count on normal folks criticizing their efforts as the dismissive work of an unethical band of marketers.
They should be avoided like the plague that is their practice.
I wouldn't be so strident on this issue if the practice of denigrating down the vast majority of artisan wines made in the world wasn't so dangerous. We are one Huffington Post article and another 60 minutes segment away from an uninformed public being convinced by an uneducated media that most of the wines you drink are bad for you or produced in a laboratory, an idea so far from the truth, yet promulgated by the Natural Wine promoters. It's not just uncouth, it's dangerous to the entire wine industry and particularly to those that produce outstanding, authentic, wines that aren't labeled "natural" by the adults in the industry.