Page 23 - Vallet Table - Spring 2020
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                                 WINE GEEK GLOSSARY
A farming strategy that sees the vineyard as a self-sustaining ecosystem. Biodynamic winemakers often use compost, and time harvests to celestial cycles in order to improve taste and texture.
A term for non-natural wine, defined by the use of technical intervention, including chemical pesticides and herbicides, lab- grown yeasts, and additives.
Onomatopoeic French slang for chuggable, light reds.
A shorthand term for the minimal-intervention approach to winemaking.
Regulations vary by country, but generally, organic wines are made from grapes farmed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Many small-scale growers operate in the spirit of organic agriculture, without obtaining costly organic certification.
Pétillant Naturel
Popularly called pét-nat, a style of sparkling wine made in the ancestral method, where the wine finishes fermentation in the bottle, creating a natural fizz.
Skin Contact
A style of white wine made like a red, where grape must is fermented with the skins and seeds, lending an orange hue and tannins to the finished wine.
Though they occur naturally in the winemaking process, the addition of more sulfur dioxide as a preservative is a hot-button topic for the natural wine community. Wines with more than 10 parts per million must include “contains sulfites” on the label per U.S. regulations. Some believe fewer sulfites mean fewer hangovers.
A wine made without additives or added sulfites.
          Exactly what constitutes natural wine is up for debate. The term doesn’t have a regulated definition, but industry cognoscenti generally agree on some characteristics. To be considered natural, grapes should be farmed organically and/or biodynamically, though certification as such is not required. Fermentation should be spontaneous, using native yeasts
on the grape skins or in the cellar. Additives are not used, including
the more than 70 USDA-permitted substances that winemakers may
add to conventional wine without listing them on the label, though
some producers do add very minimal amounts of sulfur dioxide (how much is hotly contested). Similarly, nothing should be stripped from the wine,
and natural wines generally avoid heavy filtering.
These principles aren’t new to winemaking. For thousands of years, most wines were “natural,” before industrialized intervention became commonplace in the mid-1900s. By the early ’80s, small-scale French vintners sparked the current natural-wine movement by producing interesting, different wines using traditional techniques in defiance of conventional winemaking. By the 2000s, natural wine had gained traction and spread
to other wine-producing regions, and importers began bringing more of these bottles to the U.S.
“When the modern movement began, these were the underdog regions and grapes of the wine world, where you could get really great bang for your buck,” explains Drapkin. “Natural winemakers were farming their lands carefully [and were] transparent about what they added to their wines. If I was going to do my best to source carefully farmed foods, why shouldn’t the same apply for the wine in my glass?”
From the consumer standpoint, what a natural wine should be is equally
up for debate. “There are people
who have loved the natural wines
out of Europe, which are clean, clear, and precise. Then, there are people who are like, ‘Give me the funkiest, cloudiest thing you have,’ and think
Todd Cavallo, Wild Arc Farm

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