Thursday this week was the first session of Brockley Natural Wine Club and I couldn’t miss it! So I went.
BNWC is a new and all natural wine club organised by my local bottle shop Salthouse Bottles, whom as you may have noticed I often mention in my posts. It’s a great opportunity for who loves natural wine to meet likeminded people and discover something new about the topic, while tasting a range of expertly sourced natural wines. For me personally this was a great experience and I’m now going to share it with you.
The atmosphere was very calm and relaxed. As I arrived I got the pleasure to meet Didier Cappa from Les Caves De Pyrene, who co-hosted the event and whose knowledge of natural wine goes beyond borders. The event was sold out but also very cosy, meaning that people could get to know each other and that any questions would be answered.
The tasting itself was very well structured, starting from a broad introduction on natural wine and tasting a Georgian skin contact wine, through to French Sauvignon Blanc and differences between natural and conventional winemaking, moving towards a Chilean Carignan grown in a wild vineyard, discovering interesting facts of sparkling natural wines, such as the difference between Pet Nat and Col Fondo… You know what I mean?
Here is what we tasted!
Chkhaveri 6m Maceration, Zurab Topuridze, Guria, Georgia, 2017
This was the first and one of my favourite wines of the night. It is in fact a skin contact orangey-rosey light red with lots of skins, as it’s soon visible from the statement colour. Plus, it’s aged in qvevri for 5 months. On the nose there is a lot going on, from ripe fruitiness, to smokiness, spices and earth - you can almost smell that skin contact from the six months maceration. On the palate its refreshing acidity goes very well with mineral, savoury and earthy hints, almost raisiny. Very unusual! A wine that sure was perfect to start with and caught my full attention.
Le P’tit Blanc, Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Loire, France, 2017 and Sauvignon Les Grandes Vignes, Cedric Allion, Loire, France
This was a tasting challenge where we were asked to identify which of the two wines was natural and which one wasn’t. I love this type of challenges and it was a great way to test my love for natural wine - was it real? Spoiler alert: it was! Le P’tit blanc is an organic “Vin de Table” from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and you can recognise it belongs to the natural wines family because of it’s unpretentious, genuine, refreshing and lightly fruity flavour, plus a cool-climate pale colour. Sauvignon Les Grandes Vignes was more like your textbook Sauvignon Blanc, highly aromatic, passion-fruity and loaded with colour. It was interesting to hear people’s comments and comparisons about the wines, plus which one they preferred, natural or not. Personally, I would have happily taken a bottle of Le P’tit Blanc home.
Villalobos Carignan Reserva, The Wild Vineyard, Colchagua, Chile, 2017
This was an absolutely spectacular red from an absolutely spectacular vineyard. Imagine entering a forest of grapevines - in Chile this is possible. Tasting this vibrant Carignan looking at pictures of the wild vineyard where it comes from was a unique experience and it made me realise how close winemaking and grape growing can get to nature. From this wine you can expect fruitiness of jammy wild berries with lots of blackcurrant, soft tannins and a long lasting memory of how much of a beautiful impression it left on you.
Bianco Bio Frizzante (Col Fondo), Casa Belfi, Veneto, Italy
And finally we are in Italy, where Casa Belfi make their own groundbreaking Prosecco DOCG, listening to what Glera really has to say rather than what the mainstream Prosecco Industry recommends. The result is a light bodied, lightly sparkling, hazy wine with lots of lees still around. The aroma is floral, fruity and I could smell a some ripe, juicy pear. The mouthfeel is soft and pleasantly sparkly. The answer is yes, shake that bottle a little bit, let those lees dance!
La Coulée d’Ambrosia, L’O2 Chenin Voile, Jean Francois Chene, Loire, France, 2014
This wine is what happens to Chenin Blanc under voile (also known as 'flor') for three years. And it’s pretty great. Surely a surprising wine to end the night and to send us home happy. Hints of camomile, almond, olive, plus smokiness, nuttiness, oxidation and minerality in a wine that literally transforms as you swirl the glass. I could totally see this paired with a cheese board or even just sipped on its own on a relaxing evening.
I look forward to the next BNWC, in the meantime…