The vast and complex winemaking world is always evolving, but recently, it feels as if things have been changing at an accelerated pace. Wine bars are popping up with more frequency than they did in the 1980s, what was once prized wine (Bordeaux, we’re talking about you) is now considered overpriced and stuffy, and younger generations are becoming interested in not only drinking wine, but also producing, selling and collecting it. It’s as if the entire industry, from grape to glass, is getting a complete overhaul. The natural wine trend that has taken the industry by storm is now a wine list standard, but within this natural movement, there are many different sub-genres. Here’s some of them:
A return to native varietals
Hand in hand with the natural winemaking fad and the return to terroir (grower champagne, for example) is the return of native regional grapes.Many of these native varietals were ripped up in the past and replanted with grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet to better commercialize wine for the mainstream drinker, but now we’re seeing a wave of winemakers clearing out those transplanted grapes and replanting original varietals. Not only do they better express the terroir (after all, they were planted in that area for a reason), they are better suited to the local environment and so grow better. Some native varietals to try are Romorantin, found in the Loire, and what is used to get the Cour-Cheverny appellation, Fumin and Cornalin grapes from the Valle d’Aosta area in Northwest Italy, and Partida Creus wine producers in Spain, creating incredible blends with grapes that were once were near extinction (like Vinyater). No more.
Where to stay in Spain
Naturally sparkling wines, or pétillants naturels, are starting to make quite a pop in the realm of bubbles. This winemaking technique is nothing new, and follows what’s known as the methode ancestrale to create a sparkling texture: the wine is bottled before its primary fermentation is complete, so there is no secondary addition of sugars or yeast. This is in contrast to the champagne method (used to make champagne, among many other sparkling wines) where a second fermentation takes place in the bottle with sugar and yeast added. So basically, what does this all mean? That pét-nats are cloudy, rustic, natural, unfiltered and have a lot of personality (read: can be unpredictable), making them fun and exciting to drink. Why should this be your new summer tipple of choice? They come in red, white and rosé form, are lower in alcohol that your average glass of champers (in the 10% area), are way less expensive and offer a funky, bubbly alternative to your typical glass of Veuve or Moet (yawn). Some pét-nats to try are ones from Les Capriades, Lemasson’s Pow Blop Wizz, and Domaine Moses’s Moussamoussettes.
Where to stay in France
Rosé is so 2015. I know, just as you were getting excited for the slew of new rosés to start hitting the shelves (and your glass), it’s over before it even began. But not to worry, the world of slightly chilled reds is just as fun and interesting. First, what makes a good red to put in the fridge? Something that’s low in tannins and higher in acids, with ripe, juicy, berry fruit flavors, for starters. The idea of chilling red is nothing new in places like Spain, France or Italy, but it’s starting to really catch on this side of the pond – once the weather heats up, get ready to see bottles of rouge on ice. One of the best examples of a red grape that does really well with a slight chill is Gamay, used to produce Beaujolais wines. Some excellent Gamay options are the inexpensive Lapierre Raisin Gauloise, or Lapierre Morgon, for a treat. The Loire valley is another hotbed for cool reds, with producers like Hervé Villemade or Clos Roche Blanche. In Italy, Sicilian wines with the Frappato grape like Occhipinti’s Tami (and many other wines in the Occhipinti family) is an affordable, delicious treat, so crack open those bottles and get your drink on.
Where to stay in Sicily