Jules van Costello would like to see a lot more New Zealanders doing it naturally; by which he means making wine with “minimal intervention”.
The Wellington wine retailer, drinks writer and restaurateur is a champion for what he sees is the most important wine trend taking place across New Zealand.
“Eight of out ten bottles of wine exported from New Zealand are Sauvignon Blanc – that’s a huge risk for our wine industry.
“With the growth in interest in organic, sustainable and traceable products of all kinds, natural wine is an important and growing segment of the wine market that could diversify NZ’s export options,” van Costello says.
So, what is natural wine? Essentially it is wine produced with minimal human intervention and is a blend of ancient craft and twenty-first century science.
Boutique winemakers all over New Zealand are leading the charge, achieving exciting results.
“Our natural wines are winning very positive fans overseas. We have the opportunity to further broaden our reputation, positioning ourselves as a serious natural wine producer and a natural wine destination.
“As is often the case, sometimes our wines are held in higher esteem internationally than they are at home.
“Wine tourism holds exciting opportunities and we have all the ingredients for a huge future, partly driven by the growing northern hemisphere interest in natural wine,” says van Costello.
A precise and legally binding definition of “natural wine” doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, but there are four principles that are broadly agreed within the industry.
Natural wines are either organic or biodynamic and they feature indigenous yeast, which exists naturally on the grape skins, and triggers wine fermentation.
The other key features are that nothing is added to the wine and nothing is taken away. Winemaking processes like filtration and mechanical extraction are not employed when natural wines are made.
For something pure and virginal, the topic of natural wine has potential to create controversy.
“Natural wine has a mixed reputation,” notes van Costello. “For every person who loves a particular wine, there others will react less positively…
“But what is very exciting is the huge spectrum of colours, flavours and textures; from crazy and confronting wines to elegant, refined, serious and grown-up examples,” he adds.
To give wine lovers an opportunity to see the delights of this new wine category, van Costello will be holding a Masterclass, “Doing it Naturally – Wines as Nature Intended” at the upcoming NZ Boutique Wine Festival, Imperial Buildings, Fort Lane, Auckland, on Sunday 10th June.
Tickets for the event are available at Eventfinda and tickets are still available for van Costello’s masterclass.