The Top 10 Natural Wines

With Natural Wine now the hottest category in the wine industry I thought it time to offer my top 10 list. What’s remarkable is just how many folks are drinking Natural Wine these days. The Natural Wines that make my top 10 list are delicious examples of what can be done when winemakers around the world dedicate themselves to using natural grapes to produce wine.

THE TOP TEN NATURAL WINES

Sutter Home White Zinfandel—California

Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir—Vin de Pays d’Oc

J. P. Chenet Cabernet-Syrah—Vin de Pays d’Oc

Yellow Tail Shiraz—South Eastern Australia

Gallo “Apothic Red—Wine Maker’s Blend”—California

Marques de Caceres Crianza—Rioja

Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay—California

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc—Marlborough

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

As we’ve read from a number of folks, this up and coming Natural Wine movement seems to threaten many folks in the wine establishment. It really shouldn’t. After all, the movement isn’t demanding any definition be placed on the term “Natural Wine”. Additionally, when folks making Natural Wine say they want to give consumers something authentic, they don’t point to other wines and accuse them of being inauthentic…they let the consumer come to those conclusions themselves.

The list above list of Natural Wines shouldn’t offend anyone. They are delicious examples of what can be produced by hardworking winemakers with a desire to give consumers a taste of naturally grown grapes. And the beauty is that most of these Natural Wines can be found in any grocery store or wine store across the country. I invite you to sample these wines and get a sense about what all the excitement is about in the world of Natural Wine.


22 Responses

  1. Marc André Gagnon - October 23, 2012

    A nice joke!
    Industrial natural wines ou Narural industrial wines?
    Pathetic Red

  2. Tom Wark - October 23, 2012

    Mais, Marc….these wine are all made from natural grapes and present a lovely example of the diversity within the natural wine category.

  3. John Skupny - October 23, 2012

    Ha, natural yes – but are they vegan?

    • Wine is Life - October 23, 2012

      LOL touche!

  4. Rich Reader - October 23, 2012

    Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut has been a lifelong favorite in my Brut division.

  5. Kristy Kelley - October 23, 2012

    This movement is very interesting. So, when they say they’re grapes are gown naturally does that mean without chemical and pesticides?

    — Kristy w/ Wine Logic

  6. Wine is Life - October 23, 2012

    We’ve been interested in learning more about the natural wine movement – thanks for the list!

  7. Douglas Trapasso - October 23, 2012

    But is the -label- natural? How about the ink used to -print- the label? What about the punt? That sure looks like a man-made punt to me!

  8. Ernesto Greenblatt - October 24, 2012

    Well done.
    This should go a long way towards further solidifying your reputation as the last person on the planet one should turn to find out about natural wines.

  9. Tom Wark - October 24, 2012

    Ernesto,
    Or…perhaps….the post might go a long way toward solidifying a reputation as one of the few people on earth not swayed by the fraudulent promotion of “Natural” wines. It could go either way.

    • Ernesto Greenblatt - October 24, 2012

      I doubt that very much, Tom.
      You bring too much bias to the table on this issue.

  10. Tom - October 24, 2012

    I’d love to see how the FDA/TTB rulemaking would go for defining “Natural” in wine. I suspect none of us would live to the end.

  11. CSMiller - October 24, 2012

    Isn’t Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir actually mostly grenache or something other than Pinot Noir? Well Grenache is natural isn’t it.

  12. Blake Gray - October 25, 2012

    Hey Tom, nice to see what you’ve been drinking.

  13. Tom Wark - October 25, 2012

    Blake,

    And to think that I’ve haven’t even gotten to the Natural Wines in Box. So many “natural” wines to try.

  14. Steven Washuta - October 25, 2012

    If you ever find yourself in Oakland do all of us a favor and check out the Punchdown wine bar. Sure, the term “natural” has no real definition, but the wines which fall into the category that you seem to either loath or be afraid of really are different and delicious. It’s upsetting to me that you enjoy bashing the concept just as a way to get attention, and unfortunately it works. For me you’re just continuing to paint yourself as a close-minded jerk who, unfortunately, would probably hate all of the wines at the Punchdown because you’d be going in with so much bias.

  15. Tom Wark - October 25, 2012

    Steven:

    Thanks for your comment.

    It turns out I like a number of the wines that have been categorized as “Natural”. Furthermore, I think the pursuits of those who call themselves producers of “natural” wines are quite exciting and an important continuation of the work 100s if not 1000s of artisan winemakers have been working on for years.

    So, I don’t loath these wines. Nor do I fear them. I’ve been drinking, enjoying and promoting wines of this type for two decades.

    What I object to is the fraudulent use of the term “natural wine”, particularly when those using the term know that the wines they are creating are not “natural” in any sense. Rather, it’s a cynical appropriation of a term for the purposes of appealing to a group of consumers that seek out things that are “natural”. Furthermore, there are a number of far more accurate terms that could be applied to these wines that also could be used for marketing purposes, yet the champion’s of “natural” wines don’t use these more accurate terms because they don’t have the same marketing cache.

    Finally, if you look around at what champions of these wines have said about those wines they don’t believe fall into their “natural” category, you will find too many comments that simply denigrate whole swaths of remarkable wines and winemakers….for the purpose of promoting the reputation of these so-called “natural” wines. It’s despicable in every respect.

    As for drawing attention to myself, there are far better ways to do that than to talk about a category of wines that are still consumed by a tiny minority of drinkers. I could write about the three tier system, Robert Parker, Napa Valley, Wine Reviews, the 100 Point rating system or a number of other topics that always draw more attention to this blog.

  16. Leigh W Dryden - October 27, 2012

    Sorry I really struggle with Yellow Tail making claim to the fact that they are Natural wines when all they are a poor excuse of a McDonalds style production of wine- would love to see roof of this claim. I think that this is just another marketing ploy to attract those of lesser knowledge to drink something that thy believe may be better for them- if there is 220 or 221 on the label she ain’t natural to me and if it has been machine harvested the same rule applies.

  17. WineSchwag.com - October 31, 2012

    Now the trend of Natural Wines, how do you keep it all straight? Its a full time job to be socially aware. Sometimes, I just want a glass of wine. Thanks for the insight!
    Terri A. Shary
    owner, http://www.WineSchwag.com
    Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

  18. John Dabney - September 19, 2013

    Just what is your definition of Natural Wine? It cannot be the same as mine!

  19. Tom Wark - September 19, 2013

    What’s your definition, John?

    • John Dabney - September 19, 2013

      A perfectly fair question Tom. Being new to your blog which I am enjoying, I have not found your definition, however I will give you mine for what it is worth.

      A Natural wine should be as full an expression of the grape variety, terroir, region and climate as it is reasonably possible to make. This means that while I am fully aware that a wine is by definition a man-made product, there should be absolute minimal intervention from the winemaker at every stage in the process. There should be zero additions of enzymes, nutrients, acids, fining and clearing agents. No macro interventions such as reverse osmosis etc. There are those who would go so far as to restrict temperature controlled fermentation though I think this may be a step too far especially in very hot regions. The question of the use of SO2 is also open to debate as it is a naturally occurring compound within the grape itself. Whichever way one falls on this one, the less the better.

      While I am not certain as to the winemaking processes used by the likes of Sutter Home, Gallo, Yellow Tail et al, I find it difficult to believe they are anything other than “industrially” made wines created at every stage to satisfy a specific consumer taste profile .


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