Over the last ten years there has been a lot of buzz around “natural wines”. As experts wanted to know more about how their wine was made, a new wave of authentic and unstandardised wines was created. These natural winemakers originally hailed from lesser-known winemaking regions and they needed a voice to match those of Chianti, Bordeaux and Champagne. Areas such as Jura in France quickly gained recognition, but as stockists and sellers caught on to the potential trend, they sparked a series of business-driven guidelines that robbed natural wines of their unique character.
Natural wine started as an amazing and unforeseen revolution. It didn’t explode in the same manner of the craft beer movement; instead, it grew silently and steadily in the hands of a few enlightened winemakers. Slowly, the niche developed a following. Before long, cool labels, catchy names and rockstar farmers became the norm. The wines soon became fodder for trendy rooftop bars in London, Paris and Milan as natural wine spiralled into another hipster status symbol. Demand soared, and so did prices, as the notion of “natural” became more important than the wine itself.
Things have now evolved so fast that we are already talking about an “old generation” and a “funky generation” of natural winemakers. The problem was that it didn’t take long for distributors to buy into the natural wine trend and create a commercial format for winemakers to follow, powered by the same marketing rules early natural winemakers were seeking to escape.
Now, some natural wine producers in Italy are joining forces to buck this trend of trending. By building a social network of winemakers under the banner of #UntrendingWine, sommelier Marco Rossi and me are hoping to ensure that natural wine doesn’t lose its way. Focusing on terroir, the natural climate and soil of a region, these winemakers have challenged themselves to break with convention and produce stunning and trend-defying wines. It’s all about individualism in the face of territorialism.