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Top UK restaurants rally behind natural wines

Over 200 UK restaurants are offering natural wines as part of Real Wine Month.

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons: natural wine

Real Wine Month is a nationwide campaign promoting natural, biodynamic and organic wines in restaurants, wine bars, retailers and wholesalers around Britain.

It started this week and will run the entire month of May, coinciding with the Real Wine Fair in London at the end of this month.

Another natural wine fair, RAW – the Artisan Wine Fair, is taking place in London at the same time.

‘A few years ago natural wines weren’t even a ripple in the collective consciousness of the UK restaurant scene,’ said Doug Wregg of importer Les Caves de Pyrene, organiser of both the Real Wine Fair and Real Wine Month.

‘Now there are wine bars and top class restaurants that specialise in these kind of wines. The Real Wine Month takes this a step further by effectively asking restaurants to go directly to the consumer and allowing them to choose what they like to drink.’

Natural wines are considered to be those made not only with organic and biodynamic principles in the vineyard, but also with minimal to no manipulation in the winery.

For Real Wine Month, 225 UK establishments will offer natural wines by the glass or feature them on their wine lists. Additionally several participating restaurants will be hosting various tasting events throughout the month.

Restaurants taking part include the Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Martin Wishart at Loch Lomand, Club Gascon, St John, North Road and The Glasshouse, as well as Hix, Ottolenghi, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, the Oxo Tower, Hawksmoor, and Hotel Terravina.

London restaurant Pont de la Tour, whose 1000-strong wine list has around 40% biodynamic wines and 10% natural wines, will be hosting a masterclass with Sicilian natural winemaker Arianna Occhipinti on 21 May.

‘The whole [natural wine] movement has always existed, but it’s been put on the map now,’ Nicolas Clerc, Pont de la Tour’s wine manager told Decanter.com.

Part of the difficulty, he said, was that natural wines were sometimes ‘surprising’ and require more explanation.

‘The problem from time to time is that there’s a surprise when the wine is opened. It may be a good surprise but it may not be. Some wines show themselves better depending on the time of year or month.’

He added, ‘When people order something like a natural Sancerre, you assume they don’t know it will be different and they’ll expect a certain style. The wines need more explaining. Some people will be scared off and some will be intrigued.’

The Real Wine Fair takes place in London 20-22 May 2012; RAW, The Artisan Wine Fair, takes place 20-21 May, also in London.

Written by Christina Pickard

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