Wine Calling (Le Vin se Lève)
Wine Calling (Le Vin se Lève)
I recently saw this film at The French Institute in South Kensington, made with great passion by director Bruno Sauvard and here is the Press Release
“Recently the world of wine has been in full effervescence, shaken by a counter culture as strong as the rock scene was in its time. All around the world, joyous rebels have invaded the vineyards to create the wine they love : a natural wine free of codes and norms.
While there are more than 3,000 wine growers in France, less than 3 percent of them are working in bio, biodynamic or natural methods of wine production. For ethical reasons, this relatively small community of wine growers has chosen environmentally friendly farming practices aimed at finding the natural expression of “terroir” – the full breadth of land, geography and climate – and the living character of the wine. It’s in the south of France, in the heart of Catalonia, that WINE CALLING has followed over a year, from the harvest to the bottling, some of the most exciting of these new wine growers, springboard of a rising global movement for taste and sustainability”.
The film shows a year in the life of some seven wine producers in Roussillon who have given up their former ways of life by dedicating themselves to making “natural” wines. This is a growing phenomenon, driven by the desire to produce wines of such ethical purity to give satisfaction to themselves as well as the rest of humanity. On top of that, they have convinced the filmmakers (or maybe just themselves!) that these wines are so pure that you can drink litres of it without getting a headache!
But first of all, it’s probably appropriate to define organic (bio), biodynamic and natural wines.
Organic wine has officially existed (in France) only since 2012. The requirement from then on is not to add synthetic or insecticide treatment to the vines and, recently, proposals to slightly reduce some inputs during the winemaking. On the other hand, it allows acidification, deacidification, heat treatment, adding tannins, adding wood chips, sulphur, industrial yeasts, etc.
The winemakers who use this method try to intensify the soil in order to improve the exchange between the earth and the plant. For this, they use herbal preparations that they infuse, energise or macerate to help the vine to strengthen and develop better. They also use the lunar calendar: plant, soil and lunar influences combine well in these winemakers’ philosophy. It was a philosopher, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) who laid the foundation for this mobility also called anthroposophy. It allows fining and filtration of the wine, chaptalisation (adding sugar) for sparkling wines only and a lower sulphur dose than in organic wines.
Natural wine comes from organic grapes – and possibly, but not necessarily, includes biodynamic grapes – and is not corrected, altered, or tampered with by chemical additives. Natural wines are recognised by the absence, or near absence of SO2 (sulphites) added in the bottles. Unlike organic wine, natural wine is not the subject of specific definition or legislation. It is essentially based on practical and simple principles: respect for the terroir, the soil, the plant and the people who make the wine. It excludes the use of chemical inputs and all methods of “brutal” vinification such as pasteurisation, acidification, chaptalisation, adding industrial chips or yeasts, fining, etc.
It’s a very interesting film, depicting the way of life and the dedication shown by these pioneering people. Featured in the film are
Laurence Manya Krief – Domaine Yoyo
Olivier Cros et Sylvain Respaut – La Cave Apicole
Stéphane Morin – Domaine Léonine
Jean Sébastien Gioan – Domaine Potron Minet
Jean-François Nicq – Les Foulards Rouges
Céline Georget et Michaël Georget – Le Temps Retrouvé
Loïc Roure – Domaine du Possible
They produce wines of emotion. Free, natural and unadorned. Solidly ethical, they represent a new Utopia going from the soil to the plant whilst bypassing all the synthetic and chemical additives which has drained the soil of its natural nutrients. Through small-scale marketing and fair trade, usually via specialist wine merchants, they hope to convince the public that this is the way forward in sustainable wine production. In doing this, the question to ask is – can they make wines that will appeal to knowledgeable amateurs of wine and also the public in general?
After the film was shown there was a tasting of Natural Wines. Unfortunately, NOT from any of these producers, which was a pity, because the two wines that they showed for tasting (a white from Italy and a red from elsewhere in France) were pretty unimpressive. The white was cloudy (as many natural wines are) and gave the impression of drinking a sample before the fermentation had finished. It was very light – I think 11% abv and a little grapefruity in taste. The red was pretty astringent and again light – I suppose that’s why you could drink a lot and still stand up!
A real shame that we couldn’t taste any wines from the featured producers. Their dedication shown in the film surely merited a wider distribution. I haven’t tasted any of their wines previously and I think you will have to go locally to be able to drink them. If anybody has or will taste their wines I would love to have your feedback. They know that they will not be making a lot of money out of doing this, especially with the rods they are making for their own backs. But I’m sure that progress will be made, in time, to make these wines more palatable to the public at large with experience.