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Natural wine is more than ‘ticking boxes’

There's no point being too dogmatic about natural wines, says Real Wine Fair organiser Doug Wregg.

The Real Wine Fair organiser has argued that ‘natural wines’ don’t need a strict definition, as divisions in the sector re-emerge ahead of fresh exhibitions.

Wregg defended the Real Wine Fair‘s decision not to ‘establish a charter’ for natural wines.

‘We are quite inclusive,’ he told Decanter.com. ‘There’s a broad spectrum of wines that are low intervention. Sulphur is not such an important issue,’ he said.  

Real Wine Fair has faced criticism from some corners of the natural wine movement over its relatively liberal approach.

This year’s Real Wine Fair will take place over March 17th and 18th, rather than clashing with rival UK fair RAW in May, as it did last year.

Wregg didn’t directly criticise RAW when speaking to Decanter.com, but he did say that natural wine should be about more than ‘ticking certain boxes’.

‘I don’t think there’s any point in being dogmatic about it,’ he said. ‘If you do, you get into legal definition, which leads to bureaucracy, which means people paying to join the club, and then you get splinter groups. Some growers then won’t value it as a term, because it doesn’t go far enough. Keeping it loose is keeping it strong.’

However, some worry that the concept of natural wines remains too vague.

‘We think a tighter definition of natural wine would be good, because consumers are hearing the word regularly in the media, and the lack of definition creates confusion,’ said John Beveridge, of Organic wine merchant Vintage Roots.

‘In lieu of certification, we are moving towards increased and clearer labelling, such as marking wines as low sulphur or no added sulphur, biodynamic, vegan etc.’ In January, the three most popular wines at Vintage Roots were all ‘no added sulphur,’ he added.

Vintage Roots won’t be attending Real Wine Fair, but will visit RAW, where two of its listed producers, Meinklang and Clos de Caveau, hope to exhibit their wines.

Wregg said that this year’s Real Wine Fair is in a better venue, in Wapping’s Tobacco Dock, and will include a boutique wine shop run by Roberson, as well as a host of pop-up restaurants from well-known players on the London scene, such as Fifteen, Modern Pantry, Galvin and Club & Cellar Gascon.

Commenting on the date change, he said it’s better if Real and RAW don’t compete directly. ‘We also asked the growers, and they said they’re always really knackered by the time it comes to the end of May’.

This article has been ammended, after an original quote cited to RAW organisers was proved incorrect.

Written by Chris Mercer

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