Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Passion and Intensity: The Natural Wine Event at Astor Center

The neatly trimmed rows of vines, going on for what seems like infinity.  The cellar full of bottles, awaiting there turn to wow the world.  The winemaker, casting his spell over humble grape juice to turn it into some magical elixir.

Alas, what I wrote above is but fiction.  The actual practice of growing grapes and making wine is not quite so bucolic.  There are hail storms, hungry birds, insects, molds, plagues of frogs.  Well, maybe not plagues of frogs, but a vineyard faces myriad hazards in creating a bottle of wine.

Now, to face these challenges without the use of many modern techniques, takes a certain kind of wine maker.  A winemaker full of passion and intensity.

The 6th Annual Natural Wine Event drew wine makers from France, Italy and the United States.  Being able to talk to a the person that created the wine you are currently tasting is kind of a two edged sword.  While you are able to prod the maker directly with questions about the wine, you may want to think twice about saying anything too negative about the wines.  These are passionate people and these wines are like their children.

The fact that all these wines were natural wines is what set this event apart from most wine tastings.  No insecticides, fungicides, etc. are used on the grapes.  Very little human intervention in the vinification process.  These are high risk wines.  It is very easy to loose a whole years work due to some pest or unusual weather condition.

Now, in the end, it all comes down to are the wines any good.  In my opinion, all the wines were at least good, several of them rose to the great category.  One particular favorite of mine was the 2005 Mas au Schiste from Rimbert in the St, Chinian in France.  The mix of red fruit and mineral flavors makes this quite an  interesting wine.  At just under $20 a bottle, not a wallet buster.

When I inherit that large fortune from my unknown rich uncle, I may attempt to make it into a small one by purchasing a winery.  Till then, I think I'll let some of these talented people continue to make my wine for me.


Jennifer said...

John, Thank you for capturing some of the energy and texture of Saturday's tasting - I was running around ensuring there were clean glasses, but reading your post I felt like I had been a guest! You always write with such evocative language. It is a pleasure to have you as part of the Astor family.

Fresh Local and Best said...

This sounds like an interesting conference. I would have enjoyed learning the perspectives of each attendee.