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Natural or not? Wine professionals state their cases in Decanter

Two experienced wine professionals fight their corners in this month's Decanter over the rights and wrongs of natural wines.

Isabelle Legeron MW, founder of the Natural Wine Fair in the UK, is an evangelist for the style: as she says, ‘I am a total convert and drink nothing else’.

In the opposite corner is Liberty Wines chief David Gleave, a self-confessed sceptic, who has told the wine trade on his company’s website, ‘You won’t find any so-called natural wines on our list’.

In the guest column in the September issue of Decanter, Gleave argues that judicious use of sulphur dioxide cleans and stabilises a wine and helps prevent oxidation. He never argues for gum arabic or powdered tannins or other additives that natural winemakers eschew.

But he is outraged that natural winemakers have appropriated the term ‘natural’: ‘Great winemakers consider they make natural wines.’

For her part, Legeron points out how ‘bizarre’ it is that we are hyper-aware of the food we eat, and question its natural credentials, but are happy to drink wine that is effectively processed.

‘We celebrate unpasteurised, stinky Epoisses for its uniqueness, and fresh apple juice for its cloudiness, yet we insist on wine that is sterile and consistent.’

As Andrew Jefford did in the previous issue of Decanter, Gleave insists his mission is simply to find wines that express terroir, and the faults that develop in unfiltered, unfined and unstabilised wines mask that taste of the land in the wine.

‘I believe that the right kind of intervention…is necessary to ensure a wine expresses its origins.’

Not so, says Legeron. ‘Fine natural wines are vibrant and alive, and show excitingly diverse personalities…’

David Gleave’s guest column, and Isabelle Legeron’s feature on natural wine will be published in the September issue of Decanter, out now.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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