Book of Bertil, Volume 1 Chapter 2
Dear readers, friends as emeritus members of Bonde Fine Wine,
I am introducing our (so expected) second newsletter.
The subject at hand is difficult to broach because it is controversial and—noticeably—millennial. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “everything new is old.” Therefore, I will try to deconstruct the myth of “natural wine” as simply as possible.
For this fact, I must warn you that this newsletter is not recommended for sensitive and emotional beings and even less for those who are convinced that "the earth is flat" and that everyone must believe (unitarily) in it individually as the holy word in the divine. Nothing changes. (Because this topic will be treated with esotericism and without additives or filtration, there’s potential for the impression of being sour, caustic, corky with mold vents, or even a bit putrid like a faulty wine.)
Firstly, it is essential to consider the many different understandings given by the consumer, often varying depending on one’s age or culture, or of one’s definition of a ”natural wine.”
For some, this regroups wines from organic viticulture (without adding or spreading fertilizers or chemical pesticides). Most of these consumers never consider unreasonable human intervention, such as the excessive spreading of plant or animal concoctions aka “teas” in the vines throughout the ripening of the grapes and or brutal interventions in the vineyard or the cellar during fermentation or maturation.
For others, it’s defined as wines without sulfites. They do not, however, specify whether this includes all sulfites or only excessive addition in the winemaking and bottling process. A sulfite allergy is a sensitivity or severe intolerance to potassium bisulfite KHSO3, or ”simple sulfites.” However, the demand for a wine without any sulfites whatsoever is technically impossible because sulfites occur naturally during the fermentation process of turning grape juice into wine. It a quite simply a natural occurrence. It is therefore clear that no honest and upstanding wine merchant can guarantee you a truly sulfite free wine. To put it simply, sulfites, yes, but with incredible moderation.
Natural wine can also be interpreted as the practice of winemaking biodynamics. A religion for some, Demeter is the official biodynamic certification and refers to the philosophy and practice of natural and sometimes esoteric actions. This results from returning to ancient and ancestral farming practices and observance of the Farmer’s Almanac. It is a dedicated approach to the fundamentals of organic practices resulting in extraordinary quality and typicity of the different soils and terroirs in the wines. Keep in mind, however, that "biodynamic" and "natural” wine do not speak the same unique language – they only share a concept of human non-intervention on our planet’s ecosystem's natural cycle, cosmic influences, and extra-planetary energies. If you want to understand the basics, I advise you to reread your Greek classics and the writings of Rüdolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy, and a more current esotericist (1920).
Viticulture and Biodynamic Viniculture is a practice (unlike so-called "Natural wines”) where human intervention is complete and indissoluble from its fundamentals.
For others, natural wine is defined as follows: funky, cloudy, unfiltered, different with some sour taste... like when beer meets wine!! I have to be honest with you, because I especially do not want to offend fanatics of these bizarre and atypical wines, however, this wine practice is...beyond me and doesn’t appeal to me at all. I find it difficult to combine eco-responsibility and eco-disaster. These wines are a fad, and, as we all know, fashions reflect counterrevolutions from previous generations. They are sometimes brutal and often, unfortunately, flatten social and political conformities by proclaiming, “difference brings about change.” There’s a reminiscence of going back to the seventies with and “flower power.” If that’s your preferred style...good for you. Still, I must inform you of three essential facts.
Art by Jordan Piantedosi
First, these wines refer in the world of sommeliers and winegrowers (oenophile experts) to all the aromas and visual defects of what is defined as a faulty wine.
These wines are immediately rejected for consumption for reasons of hygiene, unpleasant smell and taste, demonstrating a lack of professionalism and application of expertise.
Second, for some these wines are not very healthy for consumption. The instability due to lack of rigor and the total refusal of human intervention throughout the process worries me. Do you eat your organic carrots or your neo-organic potatoes without washing them beforehand? Do you do this to protect yourself from soil and other foreign elements during cooking and their consummation? Do you not clarify your broth before consuming it (in a natural way) to eliminate impurities?
Third, remember that moderation always tastes better and that excess never pays off (never bears good fruit.) Natural wine can be good, pleasant, and preserved over time without danger while respecting the necessary and urgent acts of an active and resonant ecology. We categorize these wines from sustainable practices and philosophies.
Then, what really makes a wine “natural wine”?
Natural wine has no official or legal definition. It’s a loose range of winemaking styles that claim to be every and nothing at the same time. Metaphorically, a motorcycle ride on a side road going sixty miles an hour with no helmet, a parachute jumps without ever having checked if the bag is appropriately secure (or guaranteeing a backup chute at that), It is a wine that claims to be (truly or falsely) organic, ecological, biodynamic, and made without human intervention (without any additives or synthetic yeasts) and leaves free reign for wild and uncontrolled fermentation. What IS certain is that there is no legal and written definition of natural wine, but simply a first legal approach to the “natural wine” certification legislation. On this first legal draft there is nothing said about neuroleptic or health standards and even less about the overall impact going further than a definition of wine.
Is natural wine a fad?
Yes, alas, thanks to the importance and power of social media and influencers who are constantly on the lookout for different novelties and movements (even if Le Vin Nature first saw the light of day in the 1960s in Beaujolais). This trend has reached the Millennials and on to Generation Z. Blank puck without memory or references. They believe in what Instagram or Twitter is telling them and never take the time to evaluate and compare. Their only benchmarks are not based on the olfactory and quality taste of a Grand Bordeaux or a Château Montelena, but on the last funky beer, they drank. Poor parents, we have failed in all our educational obligations.
Then how is natural wine defined at Bonde Fine Wine? And why are we offering natural wine at Bonde on our shelves?
Foremost, on behalf of Bonde, I must reiterate our vision and our raison d'être. Bonde is the result of a reaction to several observations and beliefs and is committed to serving our community because... These so-called “natural” wines, such as those which are biodynamic, organic, and/or sustainable, embrace the practices and beliefs we support – that is why we classify wines at Bonde as Environmentally friendly AKA “Eco-Responsible.”
A quality wine comes from a vineyard where the earth, the vines, the ecosystem are treated with respect, intelligence, and love. The vineyard is the place where man must work, and like a conductor, must lead with sensitivity of the maturation of fruit of excellent quality and great purity. Much like a chef in their kitchen, the winemaker's duty is to transform raw product. By their resonant and reasonable intervention in a wine of excellent quality and great purity with the least possible intervention. So “Bonde by Bertil” by my rigor and more than 40 years of professional expertise, certifies that all the wines offered in the store reflect this standard.
In conclusion, here is my definition of "Natural Wine":
If it is naturally good and of natural quality, then why not? Because it is essential to accept that, all tastes are in nature. Finally, and importantly, at Bonde we are here to serve you without any judgment. Because for us, it is all-natural.
*Memorandum: My words and opinions in these newsletters are and would always be personal, and I intend to offend. I always accept that others have the full right and duty to challenge me, to argue, and, if it is necessary, excommunicate me from their beliefs (often dull and hollow) because I would act the same way if it were the other way around.