By Jamie Drummond
Good Food Revolution: So what’s all this Natural Wine stuff about then?
Alice Feiring: It’s just about as hard to understand as the concept of free-range chicken. This is wine that doesn’t have any crap added to it. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Maybe a smidge of sulfur. And, let’s assume non-chemical farming. So, what’s all the fuss about? That’s the fun part. No, wait, the fun part is drinking it. But the philosophical part, the debate about nature is quite compelling.
JD: What was your first introduction to Natural Wine?
AF: At the height of the Parker taste era–when wine was transformed into something unpalatable to me– I really started to seek out the alternatives. My first encounter with no sulfur wines was probably Dard et Ribo in the late 90.s And then….when I first went to the tasting, La Dive Bouteille in 2001, I walked firmly into the alternative universe. There were all of these kindred spirits– vignerons I still buy from, I still adore. A party with stupendous wine? I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with the wine and people?
JD: Some of Natural Wines most outspoken critics, such as Michele Chapoutier, claim that it is a scam. What do you say to this?
AF: If you are a large producer, such as Michel, who has aligned with biodynamic farming and you want your wine to be seen as natural (even if you’re not) you resent questions about yeasts, additions and sulfur and having to explain yourself. The word scam was indicative of his fright but it was ignorant and mudslinging.
JD: What will people take away from your session at this year’s Terroir Symposium?
AF: Like an actor reaching out into the audience, natural wine breaks the fourth wall
JD: Have you tasted many Canadian wines in your travels? And if so, what are your thoughts on them?
AF: They are really hard to get in the states. but I do have a bottle of Niagra Gamay that I promise I’ll taste tomorrow night.
JD: Thank you Alice. We look forward to hosting you in Toronto for Terroir 2012.
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