Natural winemakers should beware dogma: Jefford

  • Wednesday 6 July 2011

The natural wine movement is teetering on the edge of charlatanry, Andrew Jefford reckons in the latest issue of Decanter.

andrew jefford headshot

In his column in the August issue of Decanter magazine Jefford suggests there is a worrying thread of dogmatism - and 'charlatanry' - to natural wine enthusiasts.

Jefford uses two analogies to put his point across: musicians using period instruments to play great classical works, and the image of a world without soap or deodorants.

On the one hand, a return in winemaking to a ‘pre-development past’ can ‘reveal a landscape of aroma and flavour few of us alive today ever previously had the chance to enjoy’.

But on the other hand, some natural wines are ‘homogenously cidery and coarse’, and malodorous.

The problem, Jefford says, is the dogmatic refusal to add sulphur dioxide to stabilise the wines: the use of the chemical should be minimised, but not rejected in the pursuit of an unattainable ideal of purity.

No winemaker, Jefford says, ‘should… fold their arms and stare righteously at the ceiling while their wines turn malodorously delinquent through neglect.’

Natural wines ‘have the wind of fashion behind them at present’ and even the clear-sighted can be blinded by fashion, but in the end only the best natural wine will endure, the critic says.

*Decanter magazine's September issue will feature a six page special on natural wines.

The August issue of Decanter is out now.  Subscribe to the magazine or get the digital version


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