Rebirth of terroir
Globalization has had significant and indisputable merits but obscured and sentenced to oblivion some tastes, in all fields from fashion to food, to the benefit of an massification of "culture".
The impact has been, and still is, tremendous for local traditions. It is beside the point to list the plethora of movements of promotion and rediscovery of wine and food traditions, that represent a counter-culture niche, which tries to defend the layered history of indigenous costumes.
Wine is no exception. The take over of international grapes, the unnecessary and unscrupulous use of oak barrel and the addition of chemical elements, have influenced and flattened consumers taste. The wines from Napa Valley to Sichuan, express similar peculiarities, albeit starting off from very different or opposites elements. In Veneto are planted Merlot and Chardonnay in detriment of historic and local varieties.
In such circumstances chemistry becomes necessary, as perhaps the terroir is not suitable and rejects non-native grapes and is also useful in both the vineyard and cellar, as it helps to shape the taste of wine.
Alice Feiring, forerunner of the paladins of the natural wine, fights for the rediscovery of the true voice of the terroir. Award-winning American writer and journalist, she stands out against the scheduling of flavours to create a line of identical, impersonal and calibrated wines, which become “crowd pleasers”.
Miss Feiring analyzes in-depth the theme in the book: Naked Wine, letting grapes do what comes naturally, published by Perseus Books (www.perseusbooksgroup.com). The book deals ,with irony and lightness, with wine stereotypes and promotes a "natural " vision. The story winds through the author's attempts to achieve a natural wine, examples of the pioneers of the old continent, with some excursions in the biodynamic field.
The latter is a philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 20th century, aimed at promoting agricultural development in accordance with the principles of holistic health of the soil. Current sustainers believe that some agricultural practices could lead to healing of the earth from the wounds of the past. From such practices and beliefs stem unique wines, as remarkable expressions of the territory.
The wineries which adhere to "non interventionist practices" do not allow adulteration or corrections of the final product. Miss Feiring, during a wine tasting session of natural wines, describes the feelings stimulated by a wine by saying: "A technical wine can not provoke me in this way, there is an emotional truth in natural wine that I cannot ignore" , marking the difference between essence and appearance, in a constant rediscovery of human nature and of nature itself.
Natural wine differs substantially from organic wine as the latter comes from certified organic grapes, without, however, being restricted to manipulations in the cellar as long as organic ingredients are being used.
In the United States, the Government allows about 200 chemical additives to sophisticate wines, but oddly the label indicates only the presence of sulphites, unlike the rest of our food. These ingredients include animal protein, yeast, enzymes, sulphur, oak chips, preservatives and dyes, leaving consumers unaware of the chemical composition of what he or she drinks.
Of course the industrialization of agriculture requires harvests every year, regardless of weather conditions and aromas need to be ensured, even if varying slightly from vintage to vintage, as to not surprise aficionados. Miss Feiring, in line with the rest of the movements for the naturalization of foods, proposes a return to nature when it comes to what we ingest.
It is commendable that the author's commitment to sponsoring a sustainable and often surprising wine lifestyle, to move away from the ordinariness of flavours with the awareness that you have been good to Earth and to yourself.