TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



La Biancara, Pico, 2006

Posted by Julian 13 Dec 2009

Most current wine marketing revolves around the attempt to associate wine with "nature", and to make not technical refinement, but true representation of the soil and the land the measure for wine quality. So you have your natural wine bandwagon on the one side, with your organic winegrowing, your biodynamics, your "slow" winemaking, your "natural wine". And then you have Natural wine with a capital N. And there you have your non-sulphurisers, your amphorae-diggers, your oxidizers, purists, extremists and experimentalists. Angiolino Maule from northern Italy's veneto is one of those. This wine is naturally fermented in open wooden barrels, not shielded from oxygen, unfined and unfiltered, with no added sulphur.

The colour and texture of wheat beer or naturally cloudy apple juice, it smells of cider and beer, very yeasty, raw cabbage, unripe apples. It taste of green apples, unripe nuts, very fresh acidity, a lot of tannin, a bit like a red wine made with white grapes, no "conventional" white wine flavours at all. A wine "hors catégorie" as we snobs like to say, unrankeable, but despite all the strangeness not unpleasant to drink.

There are two ways, I think, in which this wine makes sense:

You can either think of it not so much as a wine among other wines, but as a sensory reset button. This is what "wine" that is natural in any meaningful sense tastes like. Anything that is missing here, from your clear colour to you crisp fruit flavours, is brought about by what the winemaker can do with his machines and substances. It shows as clearly as anything that what we know as wine will never be, can never be anything but a product of highly specialised technology. That's okay, and it does not mean that wineries can't still make a difference by going organic of biodyn, either.

Or you can enjoy it for what it is. The fact that it is not comparable with what we know as white wine doesn't mean it's in any way defective. It actually is a very refreshing and appetizing beverage, that might work well with very spicy food or with cheese. But since renaming 99,9 % of other wines "technologically enhanced grape-based alcoholic beverage" or whatever will be an uphill battle, it would simply have to be given a different name. "Naturally fermented grape cider" would be my non-marketable suggestion.

A wine less ordinary

It seems like you really found something unusual here; one of those special finds I am sad to have missed out on. However, yet again a great review of what looks like the most unusual wine we have reviewed here!