Just finished a tasting for the Oxford Wine Club. I presented nine natural wines, all sourced from Les Caves de Pyrene. I knew it would be a challenge, because some of these wines were taking people well out of their comfort zone.
In some cases, these are the strong, smelly cheeses of the wine world. In other cases, the flavours are more conventional: it is just the names of the grape varieties and regions that are less familiar.
My approach was not to tell people that they should like each of the wines; rather, I asked them to keep an open mind, and think about what they taste.
Do you like this wine? Can you imagine yourself enjoying these flavours, even though they may be unfamiliar?
I think people who haven’t been educated about wine find this easier than those who have. But even among those who have a lot of wine education, and know all about wine faults, there are those who fall in love with natural wines and their sometimes challenging flavours.
It was a good group, and the tasting was fun. I expect some people will go home sure in the knowledge that natural wines are not for them. That’s perfectly fine. I just hope a few will have had their curiosity awakened.
I love flavour. I love to explore as much of flavour space, and find areas where I want to hang out for a while. Think about the pioneers of seafaring: they put themselves in danger and discomfort while others stayed safely at home just because they HAD to discover what was out there.
Some of these wines tonight were complex and profound, just as they were challenging and unconventional. And tastes that are acquired are often those that endure, and satisfy the most.
Now I am in my hotel room drinking hot chocolate. It’s nice, but I wish I had a glass of that Georgian Qvevri Rkatisteli from the Alaverdi Monastery to drink, or maybe a slug of Thierry Puzelat’s fabulous Romorantin, preferably with a hunk of cave aged gruyere.
For full notes on the wines tasted here: http://wineanorak.com/naturalwinetasting3.htm