natural wine, a data story

#naturalwine #research #trend #organicwine #biodynamicwine

What happens when a natural wine enthusiast and a wine data scientist team up for the sake of wine? Some serious natural wine data - especially if that scientist is wine data blogger Rachel, author of The Wine Nerd.

Dear Wikipedia, it’s us again

“What is natural wine?” is apparently a question that more and more people are asking themselves, or rather, their browser. As in many other cases, Wikipedia has the answer. While it’s safe to say that “wine” is a lot more researched than “natural wine”, we found it interesting to analyse the indexed trends that show a pretty funky growth in natural wine research in the world. In particular, the fact that natural wine searches in the new world have been increasing so dramatically is in my opinion absolutely striking and at the same time perfectly in line with how natural wine is evolving around us.

Taking into consideration that the pioneers of natural wine are mostly European based (Chauvet, Lapierre and Bellotti for instance) and the fact that the new world is currently better known for oenologically made wine, we can conclude that these two factors have left a gap that is being filled by the significant spikes in interest observed in the past few years. This can be particularly related to influential figures and events that have been occurring in the new world specifically and have definitely helped to get things moving. Famous rapper and natural wine aficionado Action Bronson has been making natural wine the centre of discussion in his frequent collaborations with Vice over the past few years and even launched his own natural wine label in 2017. Back in 2016 the iconic RAW Wine fair by Isabelle Legeron MW expanded to NYC, one year later to Los Angeles while moving the London fair to a bigger venue and in 2018 launched in Montreal. The natural wine movement is real and on a global scale, with the new world going strong and the old world going stronger than the past! But is new world natural wine the new thing?

Hey natural wine bars around the world, you’ve got a lot of French wine!

Go to a natural wine bar somewhere in the world and you will most likely find natural wine from the one and only, France. But while this is not overly surprising, it is interesting to see what other countries are represented by some of the world’s natural wine lists. USA, Greece, Austria, Slovenia and Portugal appear in numerous wine lists, which suggests us natural wine lovers to try and shift our focus from the usual suspects of natural wine and learn more about fermented grape juice from these countries. As far as representation goes, each world tends to portrait their own natural wines, with entire countries like the United States being drastically underrepresented in the old world. In the future will we see more new world natural wines in our favourite old world natural wine bars?

Natural wine doesn’t let people speechless

Wine makes people talk and some people even blog about it. Natural wine’s own niche together with organic and biodynamic wine is characterised by words that describe the relationship between winemaking and nature, as well as farming techniques and Industry-specific terms. The word “organic” here is key - without organic grapes there is no natural/organic/biodynamic wine. The other words that these three sub-niches have in common are "winemaker" and "vineyard" - this being in line with the focus on the relationship between man and nature, where the winemaker’s role is to preserve the vineyard’s natural balance and not recur to the use of chemicals, according to the mantra of low intervention in the vineyard and in the cellar. Aside from these common key words, each sub-niche presents their own characteristic concepts. Natural wine for instance shows generic words associated to the general concept itself, such as "world" (old/new), “bottle” and “fermentation”. Organic wine is characterised by Industry terms such as “certified”, “usda” and “label” (that normally states that a wine is organic). Biodynamic wine is instead defined by words related to biodynamic agriculture, such as “Steiner” (Rudolf Steiner, founder of the biodynamic approach), “horn”, “soil” and “moon” (which are all key elements of this type of agriculture). And how about the other words that just two sub-niches share? I would summarise them as follows (read the graph anti-clockwise): the natural wine movement aims at promoting a product that is not manipulated by the winemaker and therefore has no additives, no selected yeasts and low or no sulfites added, starting from grapes that are farmed in a natural and sometimes even biodynamic way.

Natural wine is our present and future. The network is expanding, people are talking, fairs are a sell out, tastings are the new regular, wine lists are transforming. We are part of a movement that is growing on a global scale and will keep doing so, as long as there’s passion.

Stay cool!


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