Zeitgeist: Got Natural?

What is natural? What is almost natural, kind of natural and not natural at all? My dictionary application defines natural as: something in or caused by nature; not made or caused by human kind; or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstance, surrounding someone or something; instinct; based on innate moral sense… and so on and so forth. It seems to be a word that as my mom says, “is ambiguous and abused.”

This past Sunday, April 10, I went to a wine expose called Vin Natur whose mission states:

“ The association of Vin Natur reunites wine makers from around the world that intend to defend the integrity of their territory respecting the history, the culture and the arts that have been handed down over time taking inspiration from a strong ecological ethic.”


There were around 150 producers gathered in a beautiful castle on a hill overlooking springtime vineyards. From Chardonnay to Nebbiolo, Syrah to Nero d’avola, traveling from terroir to terroir is a full body experience. In a world where good wine seems to not be so difficult to find, how are we to choose between the great and the splendid, the fantastic and the wonderful?

A product, wine in this case, is no longer just a bottle full of a lavish liquid. Cultivation and fermentation are no longer the main factors that one takes into consideration when purchasing a bottle of wine. We go beyond the aromas and the consistency. As consumers, we are after more than just the vessel of vino. We are now after the person as well. From who are we buying? What is their story? We are seeking a relationship, an emotional attachment. Dare I say it; we’re looking to go steady with a product.

It is at events like Vin Natur where producers are able to create a powerful tie between themselves and the consumer and maybe even convince many of us to be their lawful loyal costumer until death to us part.

This is not to say that the taste of the wine is not important. However it is more likely that we would purchase a mediocre wine from someone who is full of passion and charisma than an extravagant wine from an egotistical snob. But the difference is if we did not know those two people, the man full of inspiration and an o.k wine would not be nearly as successful as the devious man with a one of a kind wine.

And so at this event, the person becomes the product. The producers with whom I mingled were no other than those with Frankenstein hair, colorful clothes and a passion for experimentation. Some brought their dogs and some brought their children. The wines were as funky as the folk and their talk as tangy as the wine.

More often than not, I found myself continuing to taste a wacky (or wackier) man’s wine, not solely for the excellence of the wine but because of the story behind it. They would stir up my curiosity and before you knew it, the label on the wine had a face.

So back to our initial question:

What is natural? It is an echo.

Does the man mirror the wine.?

The people coming to Vin Natur are the ones who like to advertise the fact that their grapes are either organic or biodynamic, their sulfites are less than 50 mg, they do little or no filtration and they interfere as little as they can with the process. Does this make their wine more natural?

Well maybe yes and maybe no. I think that C.S Lewis sums it up best when he says, “Reason is the natural order of Truth; but Imagination is the organ of Meaning.”

* The author of this piece is not a sommelier. Her perspective is based upon the fact that wine to her is a form of art. What’s your opinion?

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