March 6, 2013

Appel on Wine: Parsing the debate over 'natural wines'

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My friend and colleague, Maine wine distributor Ned Swain of Devenish Wines, is a fellow foot soldier in the battle to promote wines that speak of place and nature, but he often knows how to phrase ideas in a less confrontational style than I. In the notes to a trade tasting that introduced the "natural" wines imported by Zev Rovine, Ned wrote, "Natural wines are 'made with as little farming and winemaking intervention as possible.' As the movement continues to grow and people understand it better (they) will become more aware of the origins of the wines they drink, ask more questions, and have a better understanding of terroir."

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the current discussions can only serve progress. I will continue to explore this subject in upcoming columns with an interview with Rovine, as well as examination in more detail of particular wines.

For now, you can follow the links online, and drink any one or two of the easily procurable wines listed below. I love these for their immediacy, freshness, purity and vitality. There is something so clear, life-affirming and urgent about how they taste that it's hard for me to accept that the larger debate isn't worth paying attention to.

Pierre-Marie Chermette Cuvee Traditionelle Beaujolais Vielles Vignes 2011 ($16, Wicked). Relaxed, raspy, exuberant.

Roche Buissiere Petit Jo 2011 ($15, Devenish). Dense, juicy, approachable.

Domaine de Majas Rouge 2010 ($16, Mariner). Rustic, farmy, chewy.


Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:


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