Recommended this week are clean and fresh 'natural' wines

April has been declared ‘Natural Wine Month’ by Le Caveau wine merchants in Kilkenny which specialises in organic, bio-dynamic and ‘natural’ wines.

Recommended this week are clean and fresh 'natural' wines

The idea is to focus on independent producers who strive to make their wines in as natural a way as possible with natural practices such as wild yeasts and low, or no, added sulphur.

A number of Independent off-licences are involved such as World Wide Wines in Waterford, Bradleys Cork, and Redmonds Ranelagh and Blackrock Cellar in Dublin.

Among the participating restaurants serving natural wines by the glass include the Cliff House in Waterford, Campagne and Zuni in Kilkenny, Ballymaloe House, l’Atitude 51 Wine Bar, Black Pig Kinsale and Café Paradiso.

Natural wines are a contentious issue in the wine world particularly for those of us that were trained to search for faults such as oxidation and brettanomyces (undesirable yeast) and to seek out the freshest, cleanest wines.

Natural wines are sometimes fresh and clean and indistinguishable from conventional wines but generally they exhibit an oxidative character from minimal or zero sulphur use.

This is not always a bad thing but it does take getting used to.

Other faults such as brett and volatile acidity (vinegar aromas) are less easy to forgive.

The bottom line is that good winemakers make good wines and nobody should buy a wine simply because of the winemaker’s ethos.

It has to be about taste.

Some natural white wines are made in an ‘orange’ style with full skin contact from the grapes (as for red wine) and this contact gives completely different flavours and mouth-feel but can be interesting.

In general the wines recommended below are clean and fresh and will not taste much different to wines I have recommended in the past but if you are interested in pursuing natural wines drop into your nearest wine bar and ask questions.

L’Atitude 51, Stanleys in Dublin and the Black Pig in Kinsale should all have some interesting wines for you to try that will broaden your mind and your tastebuds.

Next week I will push it a little further with some more extreme natural styles.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Biologico, 13% abv, Italy — €14.95

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Greenman Wines Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie

Certified organic from a good co-op in Abruzzo — hand-harvested, unfiltered and with low sulphur use. This is a bright cherry colour with soft ripe fruit aromas and a touch of tar. Similarly juicy on the palate with touches of liquorice and blackberry — try with spicy pizza or with lamb.

Domaine de Ménard Cuvée Marine, Gascony, 11.5% abv, France — €12.50

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Greenman Wines Dublin, Baggot St. Wines, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie

This is 60% Colombard with some Sauvignon Blanc and Gros Mansang and has large gobs of peach and citrus aromas with honeysuckle and a touch of apple, thirst quenchingly fresh finish. Try with a big bowl of wild mussels.

Contreforts du Delta Cotes du Rhone, 13% abv, France — €13.60

Stockists: O’Donovans Off-Licences, Quay Co-Op, Scallys SuperVale Clonakilty

Organically grown grapes from a good co-op in the Rhone near Avignon. One of Mary Pawle’s organic wines www.marypawlewines.com with low sulphur and suitable for vegans. Soft fruity palate with red fruits to the fore and a touch of spice and a structured fruity finish.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Bodegas Menade Verdejo Rueda, 13% abv, Spain — €15.95

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Greenman Wines Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie

Made by a brother and sister team on an organically certified estate in Rueda in NW Spain.

Clean pear and apple aromas, a good touch of chalk and minerality, bright crisp finish — a clean fresh natural wine.

Diwald Gruner Veltliner, 12.5% abv, Austria — €15.95

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, Good Food Store Georges St. Dublin, Mortons Galway

Austria has particularly embraced the organic movement in all its farming. Classic citrus and apple aromas with a touch of white pepper, supremely zingy on the palate with fine clean fresh apple and peppery spice flavours. Try with a Thai curry or perhaps some stir-fry Chinese food.

Domaine du Meteore ‘Les Leonides’ Faugeres, 13%abv, France — €16.95

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Greenman Wines Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie

Grown at altitude (350m) and fully organic the wine is named for the presence of a 10,000 year old meteor crater near the vineyard. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan with aromas of red currants and spice, soft on the palate with red and light black fruits.

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