Wine Wednesday: The Naturals of Summer
Tuck away those bottles of full-bodied Cab Sav from California (not that there is anything wrong with those) for when cooler weather hits, and opt for fresh, bright and vivacious natural wines that dance on your tongue and won’t weigh you down in these temperatures!
Yesterday, 3 bright-eyed ladies; Gillian from TXOKO Wine Community, my good friend Robyn from Red Nest Creations and myself, Carly from SMAK DAB set off to Banville and Jones to snag some wine for an afternoon of soaking in some rays, snacking on nibbles and sipping some vino!
Our wine criteria: must be a natural, $25 or less and taste amazing! I’m happy to report that they hit the mark on all fronts. Mike from B+J was incredibly helpful and eager to recommend some of his top picks for approachable, affordable and crowd-pleasing wine. We could have taken home a fleet, but we settle on four beautifully hued, gems of goodness.
What is a “Natural Wine” you ask? I’ll let Gillian chime in here to give you a little run down of Natural Wine, and why it’s a great choice for summer!
Natural Wine is a term that refers to wine made in a low-intervention method. It is important to note that there is no set definition or governing body for natural wine, so the style can range from completely hands off to some minor adjustments. Low chemical intervention and the use of naturally occurring yeast is where a lot of the FUNK comes in. I would say this is a funk you can learn to love. Just like learning to love salty olives, our palates evolve with a little practice. The key is to anticipate and embrace the unusual aromas/flavours as part of the style and what makes natural wines different.
Here is a general idea of the extra steps that make wine, “natural”;
Wild fermentation: this means the yeasts used to ferment the grapes naturally occurs in the environment.
Unfiltered/un-refined: leaving sediments in the bottle creates that haziness in the bottle. This adds to their body and texture.
Low sulphur addition: 70mg/L is the maximum allowed for natural wine producers.
Independent/small producers: natural wine tends to have environmentally sustainable business practices and a quality over quantity value system.
Indigenous varieties: natural winemakers highlight grapes that have history. You’ll often find natural wines made from grapes that you’ve never heard of but have been around for ages.
Organic and biodynamic practices: natural wines by definition are organic and many winemakers make wine using biodynamic principles.
Without further ado, here is what we sipped, loved, and how we would pair with food….
Casa Belfi Pet Nat
This sparkling wine is cloudy with a chance of being DELICIOUS. A zesty sipper with tons of tart peach, (think fuzzy peach candy) and pear on the nose, candied ginger, and a mineral note of wet rocks. This funky sparkler is up for adventure; enjoy with a side of sunshine and an outdoor concert or laying on a blanket while the clouds float by. The bubbles were fine and creamy, and left your mouth feeling refreshed and ready for a bite of something salty and creamy.
Smiley Chenin Blanc
This South African white LITERALLY made us smile. A blend of a few vintages with some oak influence, this wine is the colour of golden sunshine. The perfect reward for a day of being in the garden, with dirt under your finger nails and the sweat beading off your forehead. Enjoy a tropical fruit basket of ripe pineapple and dried apricot. On the nose there’s herbaceous greenery of dried dill and fresh cut grass with a side of lawnmower exhaust, RIGHT?! We loved the full bodied, creamy texture and bursting acidity. This wine begs to be paired with BBQ Salmon using our White Wine Herb Mustard or fresh cut veggies (we loved fennel!) dipped into our Dill Ranch Dip.
A orange-y blush salmon hue, this Italian rosé is absolutely CRUSHABLE. A dry style with simple and clean aromas of underripe strawberry, cherries, with a hint of petroleum. (Remember, natural wines have some funk! But I promise, it’s a weirdness you will LOVE). A great entry into natural wines, this wine has fresh flavours that shine with or without food. But if you’re feeling peckish, we recommend pairing with wood-fired pizza that has a simple white sauce or a delicate spring salad with fresh strawberries, feta cheese and a drizzle of tangy balsamic.
Photos taken by Robin from Red Nest Creations.
This Austrian red wine is full of dark fruit, with aromas of blueberry jam, baking spices like – cinnamon, clove, and allspice with a touch of funky earth. We smelled barnyard and wet hay. Pair with a summer night bonfire, when the sun goes down and it’s time to pull out the checkered flannel and bug spray. For food, opt for savoury, spiced meats, such as our Coffee Balsamic Marinade on steak or our Sweet + Smoky Beer Wings thrown onto the BBQ. And s’mores…. definitely s’mores.