Day 6: The Official Fourteen Point Manifesto on Natural Wine

Joe Dressner is one third of LDM wines, which has long carried the wines of Didier Barrouillet and Catherine Roussel.

The Official Fourteen Point Manifesto on Natural Wine

1. Hold your wallet tight when someone tells you they love “Natural Wine.” All of a sudden it is popular to say you are making natural wines, that you are drinking natural wines, that you just love natural wines. Wines come in bottles, not slogans, and unless you are talking about actual growers, vintages or vineyards, you are blowing hot air. The Natural Wine Movement hates all sloganeering and please leave us out of your exhortations.

2. Years ago I asked a clerk at Brooks Brothers how to tie a bow-tie. She patiently answered that a Gentleman either knew how to tie a bow-tie or did not know how to tie a bow-tie. The same applies to Natural Wine. If you have to ask what Natural Wine is then please reintroduce yourself to the flavors, smells and textures of nature. The Natural Wine Movement can help you, but you must do most of this work yourself.

3. The Natural Wine Movement is not a movement with a leader, credo and principles. If you think there is a Natural Wine Movement sweeping the world, triumphantly slaying industrial wineries and taking no hostages, then you are one delusional wine drinker. The Natural Wine Movement thinks that you might want to lessen your alcohol consumption for a few months.

4. But wouldn’t life be simpler if we had just one big category of natural wine to direct the poor consumer who is faced with so many baffling options? The Natural Wine Movement believes that wine is complicated and turning wine into neat categories is what made America and Madison Avenue great, but not what makes one Romorantin taste better than another Poulsard. And that doesn’t even leave room for Counoise and Pinot Fin. Broad categories are great for soda, juice, low carbon footprint beverages, eating and drinking locally and romance novels. Leave Natural Wine alone.

5. The poor consumers facing so many baffling choices are not really so confused. They need to learn how to trust and explore their tastes. If they like crappy industrial wine, why slap them around? Let them learn and go with their instincts, eventually they will come around. The pointists and tasting notes crowd are obscurantists who wants them to believe it takes the training of a brain surgeon to appreciate wine. The Natural Wine Movement believes everyone has the right to drink and eat badly, to watch horrible movies, read crappy books and watch CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami or CSI New York. Forensic evidence tells us that wine drinkers can mature and blossom and find nuance more charming than the world of Awesome and Mind Blowing!

6. Jules Chauvet used to say being determines consciousness. The Natural Wine Movement doe not expect the Wine Industrial Complex to be won over to natural fermentation, low sulphur and what-have-you. Even if it were, it would still be making unfathomable, undrinkable stuff. Stop condemning the Parkers, Rollands, Eisenmeyers, Wine Spectators, Cult Wineries with 16 Degree swill, Southern Wine & Spirits and the Andre Tamers of the world (actually, Andre Tamer is a very good importer of Spanish wine but I have a grudge against him, with good reason, and threw his name in here for no other particular reason). Honestly, they live in another world than we do.

7. Please leave us alone. Great natural wine is made in small quantities and there will never be enough to go around. Industrial Wine can satisfy thirst, I suppose, as can water, diet Sprite, Tomato Juice from local farmers and Gatorade. If everyone jumps on the natural wine bandwagon there will be a tendency to get bigger to satisfy demand and quality will be compromised. We will be overwhelmed by corporate types who want to cash in on the next big thing. We’ll have to form a new movement and find a new vague concept that hipsters all over the world will embrace (like Real Wine). The Natural Wine Movement likes to drink in peace and doesn’t want to become a marketing scheme for bloggers, wineries, retailers, distributors, importers with brain cancer, journalists and virtual reality television shows. We like being marginal.

8. The Natural Wine Movement abhors earnestness. Please don’t tell us your stories about leading a sulphur-free life and how wild yeast fermentation made you kinder to your loved ones and pets. Humorless activism to promote wine is an oxymoron. Getting smashed, eating well, and laughing with good friends are key to our movement. We actively campaign for the drinking age to be lowered to sixteen-year-old, like in good old France. We also enjoy being contemptuous of other people around us, somewhat randomly, particularly when we are on the second or third bottle.

9. Another thing we dislike is self-importance. The wine milieu is saturated with so many very important people it makes the mind dizzy. The Wine Spectator even organizes events for the very important to meet their very important peers from all around the world. The Natural Wine Movement does not attend these conferences. We don’t go to the Miami, Aspen, Boston, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Elmira or Washington Wine Week Celebration. We’re not important enough to attend and don’t want to become that important.

10. Sure, there are big shots even in our marginal milieu. Certain vignerons, certain importers, certain restaurateurs and certain major private drinkers. We do our best to rotate big shots, searching as far as the former Czechoslovakia for media darlings. We’re a democratic group based on the French principles of Liberté, Fraternité et Copinage! The Natural Wine Movement knows no lider maximo and is dedicated to the notion that we can all be René Mosse for one day! By the way, I’m not sure what Copinage means, but it sounds good.

11. Is there really a difference between Natural, Biodynamic, Real and Organic wines? There sure is, but is it really productive to blab about the differences? We like mystery and suspense and so do you or you wouldn’t be glued to your television sets watching CSI New York. The Natural Wine Movement hates precision, detail and facts. For instance, when someone asks a member of The Natural Wine Movement for the exact variety composition of a blend, we just make up some percentages. Often they don’t add up to 100% because no one really cares. We don’t care and you don’t care. If the terroir is expressive then the grape varieties are transparent. We are not in California.

12. So, can you make natural wine in the New World? Maybe and we’d love to try some examples. No doubt there are great sites and we’re confident that our colleagues in the New World will find their way over the next few decades and centuries. Planting the right variety on the right root stock and not having all those unsightly clones would be a good start. The Natural Wine Movement salutes the courage and audacity of our New World brethren.

13. Doesn’t this make us a bunch of fascists who want to dictate taste to everyone else? Not really, The Natural Wine Movement doesn’t look for converts. If you want to hang around with us, that’s wonderful, but we’re just nice people looking for a nice buzz. Ever meet Olivier Lemasson – I can’t imagine a softer-spoken, nicer guy. He has two young kids to feed and buying a case of Olivier’s wine would be of great assistance to him.

14. Who appointed me to speak for The Natural Wine Movement, you ask? I seized control three years ago in an epic battle with François Ecco and Arnaud Erhart. Since then, I have been the official public spokesman for me, myself and I.

I intend to remain firm in my convictions, steadfast in my principles, and to organize more fundraising events for Haiti. Things are still terrible there and I have done so little to help.

What have you done?

Yesterday, I drank a bottle of Mâcon-Viré 1999 from the Domaine de Roally. Eleven years on, this wine was so alive it was scary. It is fashionable to denounce Chardonnay, but this bottle was a dream come true. I rose into the clouds, clenching my plate of andouillettes, and returned to Poil Rouge (where I currently live) several hours later. Good wine has magical and inexplicable powers. 94+ points.

I would like to thank Denyse Louis, Céline Mantovani and Olivier Inebria for their help in preparing this article.

Follow day by day here:

Up next: Thor Iverson stops with a few quick notes, or; The Exegesis of Thor Iverson

~ by Cory Cartwright on June 24, 2010.

31 Responses to “Day 6: The Official Fourteen Point Manifesto on Natural Wine”

  1. An extra day and still no slogan?

    What is that about??

  2. Levi,

    Natural Wine: We Take the Headache out of Your Glass


    Thanks for this. It’s always good to remember why we drink this stuff, why we drink Puzelat instead of something else, why Arianna Occhipinti is important, and why LaPierre is irreplaceable. We cling to slogans and marketing because we’re Americans and that is how we’re brought up. I’ve been awfully guilty of perpetuating some of them, especially “natural wines!!!” (anyone remember the blogging stunt 32 Days of Natural Wine?).

    I love the Roally wines. Chardonnay is great.

    – Cory

  3. Of course you like Roally, Cory. If you aren’t ageing Muscadet, what else is there to age except Chardonnay (well, okay, there is Chenin and Riesling, but whatever)?

  4. thanks Joe. i’m going to tweet the s#it out of this post.

  5. Bravo Joe! My favorite line: “Getting smashed, eating well, and laughing with good friends are key to our movement.”

  6. “Getting smashed, eating well, and laughing with good friends are key to our movement.” These are the words for which I live by.

  7. Jinx!

  8. There was only one post while I was typing my comment..It’s not my fault!

  9. […] Wine, c2010 June 24, 2010 by jseeds Essential Read from → Uncategorized ← CRB Gamay 2009 No comments yet Click here to […]

  10. ah Joe, how I miss drinking those LDM leftover samples at the end of the day. in the meantime, I will continue to fight the good fight, slowly incorporating as many truly “natural” wines as I can into my own book.

  11. This is fucking awesome.

  12. Did Joe just give a point score to a wine? I object to that. :) But, otherwise, I like and agree with the rest of the post.

  13. 14, 94+,…yeah, but who’s counting?

  14. This is my favourite post EVER and I’m going to adopt these statutes for my own project, and translate them into Spanish (if that’s OK with the authors!). I also especially like the comment “Getting smashed, eating well, and laughing with good friends are key to our movement”. and I will also tweet this post to death too!

  15. […] go marching off and say ‘hang on a minute’. This post is down to Joe Dressner’s 14-point manifesto on Natural Wines on Cory Cartwright’s very good Saignée blog. And I have to say, it infuriates […]

  16. and next “The Corkscrew Manifesto”.

  17. Wait. Wha?

  18. All i need is a cool buzz and some tasty waves and I’m fine. Live it, love it. Thanks Joe.

  19. as a winemaker, i despise you. as an imbiber, i adore you. as a thinker, i doubt you.

    you espouse free embrace of joy and yet this is one of the most torturously self-aware documents i’ve ever read. The ‘natural’ wine ‘movement’ should not need this.

  20. i have to agree with hazzy. the philosophy is entertaining, but your views on viticulture are bizarre. all those pesky clones? please elaborate on the culture of natural wine (not in reference to number two) starting from the vine/soil if you can. i appreciate the exposure to the ideas within the site, thank you for hosting.

  21. It’s a joke, right?

  22. I think Point #7 pretty much gets to the heart of the matter. You’ll know it has all gone south when Diageo buys out Abe Schoener.

  23. I give Joe’s post 82 points – right in the sweet spot for natural wines.

  24. […] Dressner hace un alarde de todo esto en los 14 puntos para un Manifesto Oficial del Vino Natural. Leerlo es estar dispuesto a reírese de uno mismo y de las tentaciones constantes de […]

  25. Ah, Joe. Miss you!

  26. This whole series is very strange. Half the people writing on this blog are people who don’t like natural wines! Several are even more crassly self-promotional than I am! How did this happen!

    Critical comments are being deleted by Cory and we’re all left confused.

  27. Joe,

    The reason that the critical comment was deleted was that it was directed at me but most people just assumed it was directed at the poster and a very ugly debate followed complete with insults thrown at both sides (neither of which was me) and the original critical comment wasn’t even addressed, nor could it be addressed after that. It will be addressed when the series wraps up, and you can all throw rocks at me then. If I do this again serious changes will be made.

    – Cory

  28. Cory:

    You’re the editor and curator of this series. I think some of the choices were weak and it appears that every blogger in town was invited to participate. Along with various and sundry commercial types (like myself) who had little to say except that they love selling natural wines.

    On the other hand, Levi, Ed, Anthony Wilson and some others made thought-provoking contributions. I hope the series ends up well.

    Thanks for your hard work. I know no one will really appreciate everything that went into packing this series.


  29. Everybody who wanted in was let in up to a cut off day. Next year I’m thinking something a bit more intimate. Less entries but earlier organization so I can get what I really want out of it, which is talking about wine and winemakers. Maybe I’ll call it a month of natural winemakers and force people to focus on that. Who knows.

    – cory

  30. Get it?

  31. Vin nature er det nye lilla, gult, grønt …
    Det smager ihvertfald godt!

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