If you’ve been paying attention to the wine scene for the last few years you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about “natural wine”. This is especially true in trendy bars and restaurants. Some restaurants have even gone so far as to include only natural wines on their wine list.
If you’re not familiar, natural wine refers to wine that has been made with minimal intervention—both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The wines are often organic or biodynamic, fermented with native yeast, made with no additives, usually un-fined/un-filtered and aged in a way that showcases the grape (i.e. probably no new oak barrels). The result is a wine that is often more savory than fruity, certainly earthy, sometimes with a sour beer-like tang and a distinctive hazy appearance.
The “natural wine” category, however, has been somewhat divisive; the often funky, often cloudy wines are not suited to everyone’s palate. How do you know if natural wine is for you?
One option is to join a wine of the month club that features natural wines. We recommend Cellars Wine Club's Natural Wines Offering.
Or you can go it on your own. If you prefer to track down your own natural wine, here are ten great natural wines to get you started. Give a few of these a try and decide for yourself if you are a natural wine fan. If you are wondering where to buy great natural wines online? Check out our list of the best places to buy wine online:
Natural Wines Worth Buying
One of my absolute favorite natural wines, this wine is a blend of native Italian white varieties Trebbiano, Verdicchio, and Malvasia from the Vitorchiano region of Lazio. The winery is run by Trappist nuns, and the rustic-looking label includes a drawing of the monastery. The grapes are co-fermented with native yeast and no temperature stabilization. The resulting wine is savory with aromas of chamomile, fennel, and roasted nuts.
This is a type of rosé wine from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Cerasuolo roughly translates to “cherry-colored” and refers to the dark, rich pink hue of these wines. This certified organic vineyard produces the Montepulciano grapes for this wine and then ages them in anfora: essentially clay pots. This ancient aging method imparts a dusty, rustic quality to the wine, which pairs perfectly with game meats.
Graupert translates to “wild” and refers to the growth of the vines in this vineyard: they are not pruned but rather left to grow wild. This results in smaller berries which, combined with extended maceration on the skins, creates a rich coppery color and a weighty, structured texture. The wine is bottled un-fined and un-filtered.
Pet-Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, a style of sparkling wine made according to the ancestral method. Here, wine is bottled mid-ferment so that any remaining carbon dioxide produced during fermentation will be locked inside the bottle and create a softly-sparkling wine. As pet-nat wines are not disgorged as in the Champagne Method, many will be bottled under crown cap and have a cloudy appearance. This example is crafted from organic Gamay and Grolleau grapes and bottled without the addition of sulfur.
A wine aged using an ancient Georgian method, where the grape skins, pips, and stems are left to ferment in qvevri, or large clay pots which are buried underground, for 6 months. This pulls out all the tannin and spice from the biodynamically-farmed Rkatsiteli grapes, creating a bold, smoky white wine. The wine is bottled un-fined, un-filtered, without the addition of sulfur.
Farmed organically, these Frappato grapes create a light red, fruity, almost spritzy style wine. Wine is aged only in large old Slavonian oak, and bottled un-fined and un-filtered.
Unlike many natural wines, this wine is made using some intervention such as battonage and 15% new Hungarian oak. It is, however, farmed organically and bottled un-fined and un-filtered, without the addition of preservatives. The result is a creamy, lightly funky wine that is yet still recognizable as Chardonnay.
A small-production, organic winery creating terroir-driven wines in Alicante, Spain. Tragolaro means “long drink”, and is a concentrated yet easy-drinking wine made using young-vine Monastrell grapes. The ruby-colored wine is full of plums and violets.
A blend of Italian varietals grown in California, this wine is somewhere between a light red and a rosé. Fermented using 100% native yeasts and carbonic maceration, the wine is bottled un-filtered with zero additives.
COS Pithos Bianco, IGT, Italy:
A true “orange wine”, a category which often intersects with natural wine, this wine is made from white grapes but with extended maceration on the skins—seven months in amphorae to be exact. The result is a copper-hued wine bursting with wildflowers and fresh dirt.
Natural wines are here to stay. This is a growing category that is gaining a lot of popularity amongst sommeliers and other wine lovers in the know. We suggest you investigate this category to see if it matches your palate. If you are looking for wines that have fewer additives, preservatives and human intervention. these might be for you. We love the Cellars Wine Club as a starting point to investigate natural wines.