Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flaws in natural wine (red)

Quick post today, for the wine geeks and folks who are familiar with winemaking. I’d like to pose a question. Certain wines, often those produced with minimal use of sulphur, seem to have a malty, nutty quality to them. Occasionally they will have a bit of spritz which blows off with air; this I understand since liberal use of sulphur will discourage the formation of CO2 in the bottle. But the nutty maltiness, is that a sign of instability if it is too pronounced? Perhaps bacterial issues with the wine, or an in-bottle malolactic fermentation?

As an example, today I tasted two organic, seemingly naturally produced wines from Argentina, of all places, from a bodega named Montlaiz in Mendoza. The wines were all relatively low in alcohol (13.2% - 13.6%), not overly extracted and surprisingly dry and natural tasting in the mouth. Very cool considering that they are from one of the hotbeds of overmanipulated, oaked, lifeless, cookie cutter wines: Mendoza, Argentina. But, in varying degrees, they were also fucked up. Weird, malty, nutty, bacterial flavors dominated. Now I've come across these flavors in wines from the likes of Olivier Cousin and Jean Courtois in the Loire, as well as from producers in southern France and Portugal, but the degree to which they dominated was much lower. Plus the wines were more interesting.

Anyone care to shed some light or share their own experiences here?