Natural Wine Champions Deserve Some Spanking

spankingIn June of 1973 my father spanked me. I haven’t forgotten it either.

I arrived home on my bike around 8pm, a good 2 hours later than I was told to. When asked why I was late, I told my folks that baseball practice went long. That’s what provoked the spanking. I lied to my father’s face. It wasn’t baseball practice. I just wanted to hang out at my buddy’s house, knew I didn’t have time to, did it anyway, then tried to lie my way out of it.

In most cases it doesn’t take more than one good punishment for lying to drive home the point that lying is wrong. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us know that lying is wrong and most of us don’t do it any more.

If my father were still around, he’d give Isabelle Legeron, one of the most high-profile champions of “natural wine”, a good spanking for these lies.

ON NON-“NATURAL” WINE
“Most wine today is heavily processed and made using dozens of different additives that ensure consistency and speed.”

ON THE MOTIVATIONS OF THOSE WINEMAKERS OUTSIDE THE “NATURAL WINE” FOLD
“Because the bottom line is now what the vast majority of wines is all about. It is no longer about terroir, or a sense of place, or of the land, grapes or weather, it is about producing more and more wine for less and less cash. It’s about producing it as quickly as possible and then flogging a brand illusion.”

I know that Ms. Legeron has a deep knowledge of wine and the wine industry. She’s a Master of Wine, for heaven’s sake. That’s why these entirely fabricated statements literally condemning all wine outside the “natural wine” sphere as well as their makers can’t be chalked up to ignorance. Anyone who has studied wine knows that a strong and sincere focus on terroir and minimal intervention winemaking and viticultural techniques has been at the very center of the explosion of the artisan winemaking trend that we’ve witnessed across the world over the past three or more decades. No, these are straight up fabrications of the sort that got my bottomed slapped by my father.

Unfortunately, these are the kind of lies we see coming from the champions of natural wine on a regular basis.

A good measure of spanking is in order.

Posted In: Natural Wine

Tags:


16 Responses

  1. Tom Riley - January 11, 2013

    Thanks, Tom, for calling this out. I’m getting tired of the us v. them natural wine nonsense, the holier than thou positions, and the baseless pretense of superiority. There needs to be push-back. Thanks for taking your turn.

  2. Bradley - January 11, 2013

    I encourage the concept of natural wine whenever I hear about another winemaker setting off down that path. It’s exciting to try new things and see what works. Every once in a while, some of the wine actually tastes good and keeps more than a few months. Eventually, after dallying with the art of our ancestors, you have to realize what you’re doing in the real world. Ms. Legeron’s fibs are more than falsehoods, they’re elitist and encourage snobbery. Thanks for shaking the tree.

  3. Tom Wark - January 11, 2013

    Bradley,
    A good, well earned spanking never hurt anyone. Thanks for commenting

  4. Tom Wark - January 11, 2013

    Tom,

    Thanks for your input. I agree with you. Many of the champions of “natural wine” purport to have discovered something, have gone down a new path or place these wines on a moral pedestal above all others. They lie. Another unfortunate things is that the winemakers who claim to be in this category don’t call their champions to task.

  5. Thomas Pellechia - January 11, 2013

    Tom,

    Not that i disagree about the methods used to divide, but I am compelled to point out that she said “most” and you read “all.”

    Considering the volume of bulk wine in the world, it’s likely that “most” is the correct word for what she means.

  6. Chris Scanlan - January 11, 2013

    Tom,
    Why don’t you send her an email and ask her what she truly means rather than take it out of context and “denigrate” the denigrating as you’ve so rampantly pointed out in the past. I’d say she’s not too far off base. She didn’t say most producers, she said most wine. As you know the majority of wine in the world is bulk crap, and that crap is made with tons of herbicides and pesticides in the vineyards as well as tons of additives during processing of fruit. Perhaps if she changed her plight to contain all wines focused on organic growing methods and wines made without chemicals in the winery rather than making it sound elitist by calling it “natural” you would have less desire to spank, and certainly nothing to write about.
    Fact is MOST wine is made with nasty chemicals. More and more producers are making wines with no chemical additives to the soil and minimal to the juice, but rather than side with or applaud them, you chide the people who support extremist “naturalist” winemakers (most of whom don’t tout themselves as such). Thereby setting yourself on the other extreme. Perhaps your father spanking you is why you react so irritative and irrational to any comment on natural wine. Maybe you just need a hug? I’ll be in Napa next week if you want to meet up. ;)
    Best,
    Chris

  7. Kurt Burris - January 11, 2013

    I’m all for minimal intervention, but at what point does winemaking become “unnatural”? Can I wash my fermenters? If so, can I wash them with sanitary water? If so, can I use SO2 to santitize my wash water? And then how about if i leave some rinse water in the fermenter? And who gets to decide?

  8. Tom Wark - January 11, 2013

    Thomas:

    I did consider that. If Ms. Legeron and others who have made near identical claims were only referring to those largest of wine producers who do a good job of providing lots of reliable wine at low prices, then instead of writing ““Most wine today is heavily processed and made using dozens of different additives that ensure consistency and speed,” she could have chosen to make the more accurate statement that, “most of today’s winemakers don’t heavily process their wine and don’t use dozens of different additives.” But then this truthful rendering of reality would not have pressed forward the narrative that “natural wine” is something new and more wholesome and honest and the rest is derivative swill.

  9. Tom Wark - January 11, 2013

    Chris,

    Regarding the possibility that Ms. Legeron actually meant that only the big bulk producers were her aim, I refer you to my comment above.

    Regarding this:
    “More and more producers are making wines with no chemical additives to the soil and minimal to the juice, but rather than side with or applaud them, you chide the people who support extremist “naturalist” winemakers (most of whom don’t tout themselves as such). Thereby setting yourself on the other extreme.”

    You may have missed it but I’ve been saying all along that one of the other problems with the “natural” wine movement is their tendency to either dismiss or completely ignore the fact that artisan winemakers have been putting terroir front and center in their efforts for decades. Yet to read Ms. Legeron and other champions of this movement, you’d never know they exist. In fact, I believe i said this in this very post. So you don’t have to look very far.

    As for hugs, I’m a fan.

  10. Michael Roth - January 11, 2013

    Tom
    If you recall all the high alcohol, low alcohol hoopla in the past you may have read Andy Beckstoffer’s comments on the effect of hang time to vine health you would understand that the way wines are made these days is very different from the past. Look at the protocols for fermentation suggested by any of the suppliers for nutrients and yeasts you would see that completing a fermentation without additions ( IE. Nutrients, water, SO2, or acid) at the levels Mr. Beckstoffer says wines are being picked, is near impossible. I don’t believe that wines made in this manner are bad. I don’t think anyone who makes so called “non-interventionist”, “minimalist”or “natural” wine would say that. If sales are an indicator consumers are all for additions. What is happening is that some people are trying to beak out of that current mold and make the point that it doesn’t need to be made that way. Not relying on water to get your alcohol down or tartaric acid to adjust your pH or yeast nutrients to get the wine to finish fermentation or SO2 to control oxidation and bacteria is difficult. Doing all those things isn’t bad either if that is what your into. But as Ms. Legeron says it is more common then not.
    As far as her assertion that it is about making it fast and cheap, it is true with some wines. There wouldn’t be a need for centrifuges, rotary filters or of the other litany of other things sold to winemakers. The amount of new oak used in the wine industry today is by no way cheap. She misses the mark there as far as I am concerned. But the bottom line is still very important. That must be the explanation for the prices so many people are asking for the wines produced today. I don’t think that winemakers that use all these techniques care less for the land or their terroir because more and more of them are farming organic or biodynamic but it ends there. Wether they feel that the final product matters more to them then the journey is up to them. A perfect analogy for this was made by the musician Jack White on his using old instruments. To paraphrase what he said,With music in this day and age it can all be fixed in post production. People don’t have to work on their craft as hard or sing in tune, someone can fix it after the fact. Its the same with wine. You don’t have to be exactly correct all the time. It can be fixed. He also said comfort can kill an artistic impulse. Making wines without the normal tool bag of the modern winemaker isn’t easy. Not everyone gets “it” nor do they care about the journey to get to the end product. But some people do care and they seem to be fanatical about it.

  11. Thomas Pellechia - January 11, 2013

    Perhaps, Tom, but your semantics is as bad as hers when you say, “most of today’s winemakers don’t heavily process their wine and don’t use dozens of different additives.”

    As a responsible journalist, I tell you that the word “most” is as vague as can be. Give me statistics that hold up, and that’s directed at her as well as at you.

  12. Raphael Kauffmann - January 11, 2013

    According to the study, “Concentration in the U.S. Wine Industry” by Phil Howard, Terra Bogart, Alix Grabowski, Rebecca Mino, Nick Molen & Steve SchultzeMichigan State University, December 2012, about 50% of wine consumed in the US is made by three conglomerates: EJ Gallo, Constellation, and The Wine Group. Add three more and you’re at over 60%. I figure these qualify as mass producers who use plenty of additives and who, for many of their brands, focus on profit margins over quality. Does this meet the threshold for “most?” Does it really need to? I think at worst Ms. Legeron is guilty of hyperbole, something you could also be accused of suggesting her statements were bold-faced lies. I find both misleading, but neither worth corporal punishment.

  13. Thomas Pellechia - January 12, 2013

    Raphael:

    Your statistic is a start. While it shows that “most” wines are conglomerate-produced, it does not, however, state with its own statistics how those wines are produced, which means that when you say, “I figure these qualify as mass producers who use plenty of additives…” that’s only an opinion.

    Yes, Legeron is guilty of hyperbolic opinion, just as Tom is guilty of it, but that’s the prerogative of PR spin. It’s up to the rest of us to seek the facts, because special interests are not going to do the legwork for us.

    Incidentally, I happen also to believe that the majority of wine consumed daily is altered and fixed to meet the need for consistency and low cost. That is my opinion.

  14. Natural Wine Champions Deserve Some Spanking (by Tom Wark) « SMART about wine - January 14, 2013

    […] In most cases it doesn’t take more than one good punishment for lying to drive home the point that lying is wrong. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us know that lying is wrong and most of us don’t do it any more. Read on … […]

  15. Wine — not ready for prime time anymore? | Vine Art … from the palate of first vine wine online - January 16, 2013

    […] all over your face, right?  Nonetheless, it’s a catchy tune.  And timely.  The current holier-than-thou proponents of “natural” wine should take note.  According to the jingle, Reunite is a “pure and natural wine” […]

  16. Water Filters for Commercial use - June 24, 2013

    Over the years, RO has been consistently used throughout the world for treating water. Not all types of water currently within the environment can be safely consumable and used for pure and family purposes. By this process, water is purified by removing out contaminants. By the usage of a semi-permeable membrane, reverse osmosis works upon application of an external power or pressure. It should reverse the purifcation process by means of osmosis and filter out pure water from a solution containing many contaminants or solutes. In fact, the benefit is quite logical, safer and more purified water can be produced.|


Leave a Reply


one × six =