It was last night when Franconia’s organic winemakers met for their yearly new wine tasting. I think there were about 15 winemakers presenting almost 60 wines. A good stage for our young naturals I thought. So I pulled samples and drove to this room full of experienced winemakers of which some have grown wine organically for decades. It was an interesting tasting in general with wines ranging from “currently not even SO2” to what I call “conventionally organic”. The former being the exception in the person of Manfred Rothe who has actually been experimenting with no SO2 added wines for two years. I really liked his Pinot Blanc and Silvaner orange wines – a great colleague to visit and learn from. Another guy to mention is Christian Ehrlich who runs the small winery 3 Zeilen. Not really natural (yet?) but a knowledgeable guy with the right attitude letting his wines actually show some character.
Our Silvaner was early on in the cue. Helpful as the attention decreases after 40 wines while the temperature increases which is not overly helpful for the taste. I think Klemens Rumpel, chairman of the association, was quite excited to get something funky in the glasses so I got a warm welcome. With a bottle freshly opened the color was not too strong but lightly orange. I talked a little bit about the making and then I saw the whole bandwidth of possible faces. From very skeptical wrinkling noses and totally stunned faces to appreciative nodding and instantly preordering a few bottles. Pretty much exactly what you expect from a crowd having little to no experience with natural wine. I openly talked about the current fragility of the wine suggesting to write something like “you have to empty your glass within an hour or the wine will become Sherry” on the label. Many concerns about consumers being annoyed as they expect stable wines. And that such a lively wine might damage the reputation of all growers (“people will ask: is there no examination anymore?!”).
Which gave me a nice opportunity to talk about wine how I think it should be: a living beverage, sleeping and slowly changing over time in barrels and bottles. But coming back to full life after the bottle got opened and the wine got exposed to air. From then on it’s an adventure. It can take shorter or longer, be more or less surprising, steered by the temperature and enjoyed by the one embracing the unexpected. It’s like music in which you can dive in deeply, changing from loud to silent, from major to minor, incorporating new instruments and sounds, … I think you see where I’m going. Wine which you make stable is just like listening to only one chord. You’ll discover nuances there as well but it probably will remain one chord and never become a melody. Do you think I’m going too far?
One of the last wines of the evening was the red which was a lot easier to consume. I think pretty much everybody liked it, there were a few relieved faces and a “you really did that without additives?”. But it was the end of the evening so after almost 60 wines there might have been no energy left for more discussion.
As I was leaving an attending wine trader smiled at me and said “Keep on doing that. You’re a colorful spot!”. Which was a wonderful compliment to end the night with. Cheers!