In Search of Authentic Wine

by Tim Elliott on March 10, 2009

Wine Grapes Picked By Hand

Image by Cooking Up A Story via Flickr

I watched a documentary on food last night that changed the way I look at the raw materials of my meals. Politics aside, I think we have a problem right now that will take a long time to sort out. And in the meantime, I’m going to spend more time looking into the providence of the meat, grain and produce I buy.

The same can be said about wine. It is rare that I taste a truly flawed wine and when I do it is almost always in the context of a natural wine and not something made in a factory. The flaw — be it brett, VA or reduction — is more often the result of the winemaker pushing bounties and falling short. Not unlike the high-wire trapeze artist who missed the catch and falls into the net. You admire their effort and the resulting wines are most always interesting.

But a lot of wine these days seems to tick all the boxes to make sure it is what consumers want. Forward fruit. Check. Good color. Check. Sweet oak tones. Check. Bright acidity. Check.

All of which can be added to the vat at some point before bottling. The resulting wines are all technically “correct” and rarely show any flaws (although I have had some issues with over sulfuring). There is just one problem.

They don’t have any soul.

So I’m searching for real wines made from real people who want to tell their story in the glass, on the podcast and here on the blog in the form of reviews. If you have such at tale, let me know.

And I do have some great examples of such “real wines” to share with you this week…

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  • http://wwpress.blogspot.com Wilf Krutzmann

    Isn't that the message Alice Feiring was trying to get across in her book 'The Battle for Wine and Love or How I saved the World from Parkerization'?
    Recently returned from a trip to Tuscany and found a winery whose wines you would love, the Castello di Bolgheri. Natural and beautiful wines made with care by winemaker Alessandro Dondi.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/winecast winecast

      Wilf: Yes and no. Alice has very different wine preferences than I do. Like her, I'm looking for wines that are not one dimensional and reflect the terroir of where they are made. I love wines that I'm sure Alice would hate; Turley Zin. Pax Syrah, etc. But we agree on the transparency and authenticity of the production of wine. And that more voices should determine commercial success for wines here in the U.S. market.

      Will have to look for the winery you suggest here; thanks,

  • Mihaly Kartyas

    When I came across this blog this afternoon I knew I had to post a comment. I have to because I had the opportunity to meet one of the greatest winemaker of our times in Tokaj, Hungary. His name is Istvan Szepsy, winner of several awards still fairly unknown in this part of the world. He believes in terroir, traditions (he follows 2-300 year-old instructions of his predecessors saying that's all it takes – of course it takes much more than that), working with extremely low yields looking for nothing but the perfect expression of the Tokaji wine no matter at what cost. A few years ago he started to focus on dry whites and judging from the ones I have tried in his cellar (made from the local grape furmint) I dare to say that a new Montrachet is being born. And he does all that with a humility that makes him someone you have to like.

  • http://www.winedinetv.com Judit & Corina

    Dear Matyas,
    Last year we visited Tokaj and upon meeting with so many "humble" winemakers we fell in love with regions History and people. You are right Istvan Szepsy and many local winemakers are passionate about making Terroir driven world class wines. Tokaj wines have deep souls and every sip is an experience. With our Hungarian heritage we became the Ambassadors for Tokaj and we would love to bring awareness to the US with our online videos. We are in the process to develop our http://www.TokajTV.com
    If you would like to share your knowledge about Tokaj please let us know and visit us at http://www.winedinetv.com
    Koszonettel,
    Judit & Corina Schweller

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