Okanagan Wine School Lesson #4: Does B.C. Make Natural Wine?
Yes—and “amazingly bonkers” natural wine, at that.
The starting point is trying to hammer out a definition. As a general rule, natural wine is often organic, biodynamic and subject to low intervention by the winemaker, meaning things like sulphur are dispensed with or used very lightly. The result can be whites that take on an oxidative character and reds that have a near-fruit-juice-like freshness—the natural winemaker’s goal is to deliver the truest taste of the grapes and terroir possible. And while the trend is associated with France, and the Loire Valley in particular, we have a few local vignerons who are getting in on the game. Haywire was a pioneer, Rhys Pender’s Pied de Cuve bottling is electric and Jay Drysdale’s Bella Wines is bringing the hands-off approach to sparkling wines. Drysdale’s Méthode Ancestrale ($40) bottles are made with gamay and pretty much nothing else: they ferment wildly, and upon cracking the bottle cap—no corks here, please—get ready for a symphony of “We Got the Funk”: earthy and fresh, fruit and rocks. It’s amazingly bonkers—which is the appropriate response to well-made natural wine.