Michel Bettane’s diatribe against Natural wine in the current print-version issue of the Gambero Rosso monthly came to my attention this morning via the popular Italian wine blog Intravino (where I also grabbed the above image of the French wine writer).
The issue also includes an op-ed by editor Eleonora Guerini in which she writes, “every time that I hear someone talk about natural wine, I begin instinctively to laugh.”
I didn’t bother translating her piece (for obvious reasons) but, in the interest of transatlantic dialog, I have rendered excerpts from Bettane’s harangue in English below.
We sincerely hope that Italian wine lovers will not be subjected to what has been happening in France: an invasion of so-called “natural” wines — in other words, so called “zero sulfur” wines — with the complicity of numerous sommeliers, wine merchants, and irresponsible journalists…
[These winemakers] insist on making wine without sulfur and they peddle their “beverage” as if it were true terroir.
Their products are easily recognizable: the red wines stink and all of their grape varieties and terroirs end up resembling one another because the nasty native yeasts with which they are made — yeasts that greedily cannibalize the good yeasts if the vinifier allows them to do so — are the same yeasts that you find all over the planet. The wines are cloudy and unstable and they show an excessive presence of carbonic gas, giving the impression that the wine is incomplete.
The white wines — when possible — are even worse: more or less oxidized from the moment of birth and therefore stillborn. Their decomposition is then “managed” posthumously! We are amazed by the ingenuousness of the many excellent chefs who now only include such wines on their lists. They are so careful about their food: they should be the first to be ashamed of such rotten wines!
It’s up to their clients to point out that what they believe is a wine closer to “nature” is actually nothing more than a bad wine whose only intention is to give you a headache.
With some luck and perseverance, it’s possible to make wines without the addition of suflur. These are simple and very pleasant fruity wines that should be consumed where they are produced. But they need to be stored in a cool cellar and — most importantly — they mustn’t travel!
For every cuvée that turns out well, there will be two or three that are completely wrong.
But who has the means to not sell them and accept responsibility for one’s own errors?
—Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve