I’m not sure how I feel about this. Leslie Pariseau in Punch writes:
A handful of natural winemakers is pushing the limits of co-fermentation, aromatizing their wines with everything from chestnut flowers to sumac berries and basil.
My first response was “if you made good wine you wouldn’t have to add basil to make it interesting.” But of course this is nothing new.
Since the beginning of time, wines have been mixed with herbs and plants not only for preservation, but for use as medicine, which is how we ended up with things like vermouth, quinquina and amaro.
And the justification for many of these winemakers taking this approach is interesting. For most of the winemakers interviewed for the story, it’s about making greater use of the resources in their vineyards’ ecosystems to make more stable wines.
“I discovered that sometimes nature doesn’t want to produce something normal,” says des Grottes, citing the volatility of indigenous wine yeasts. His process has become more about adjusting to that volatility with an alchemy not unlike that used in monasterial practice, pulling from his garden and the surrounding ecosystem. His L’Antidote is a nonalcoholic elixir of gamay, apples, 15 herbs and lemon tea. His Chard-honey is a portmanteau of its ingredients, while his Lilipulumulus is blend of chardonnay, apples and hops, the last of which provides equalizing bitterness.
I’m more than a little curious about them. Ultimately what matters is how these strange ferments taste. It’s about expanding the kinds of experiences we can have with wine. That’s a good thing.
But realize, now that this door has been opened, we all have Bacon Barbera and Chipotle Chenin Blanc in our future.