Sicily, Mt Etna, winemaker Alberto Graci (right) with Italian wine importer in New Zealand, Marco Nordio
Bud Burst Natural Wine Festival is being held in the capital this Sunday 11 November from 12pm to 6.30pm at the Boatshed and Rowing Club on Wellington waterfront.
This wine festival explores the controversial world of natural wine, exploring concepts such as – is natural the enemy of fine wine? And what is natural wine all about anyway?
To kick things off, I interviewed wine importer Marco Nordio, who is based in Auckland and imports a range of interesting adventurous wines from Italy, including Alberto Graci’s wines; pictured above.
What’s the best thing about Bud Burst?
MN: It is a breath of fresh air in the world of wine. There is energy and innovation in natural wines even if in many cases it is just a return to the original roots of winemaking. It is about shortening the distance between the land and the wine though non interventionist winemaking. This method is more difficult than it seems as there is a lot of knowledge to acquire before reaching the result. Bud Burst is a great way to expand interest and knowledge of natural wines.
How many wines will you take there this year?
MN: I will present three wines made by Luca and Carolina Valfaccenda from Roero in Piemonte, Italy. It is a project born in 2010 with the grapes Arneis and Nebbiolo planted in the Roero region, which is near to the more famous Barolo and Barbaresco. They produce five wines. All have a defined personality. There is the south facing Arneis planted in sandy soil, producing an elegant and intensely perfumed Arneis that ends up in their top wine: Arzigh (meaning hazard in Piemontese dialect). In the east facing vineyard there is more limestone with sand and clay soils, which provides the wines with a fresher, more mineral style.
Only a limited amount of SO2 is added to his wines and there is no filtration or clarification. Spontaneous fermentation and maceration are adopted to extract attractive structure from the skins of the grapes.
How well do you think most wine drinkers understand natural and low intervention wines?
I think the idea is spreading relatively fast but it still reaches only a small number of wine drinkers.
How can people better understand these concepts?
Those of us working with wine need to provide more information to the public so they can better understand the meaning of natural wine. These wines have a fresh energy and a distinctive personality that is very attractive but it is also about respecting the environment while making these wines. The idea is about leaving the land in the same condition it was before growing grapes and possibly better.
How would you like people to think about these wines?
I would like people to appreciate the best natural wines for being good wines, first of all. They can also be a statement in favour of small scale, hands off winemaking that departs from machine based, industrial wine making. It is my opinion that we should also help the wine drinker to discern between good and bad natural wine, as quality is not a given.
There is a lot of research and experimentation involved in making a good natural wine and a lot of wine gets disposed of (hopefully) in the process.
Bud Burst is on Sunday 11 November, 12 noon to 6.30pm, The Boatshed, Taranaki Street, Wellington.
Buy tickets here: http://www.budburst.nz/