I love when famous people scorn the artificiality that exists in so much of the world! How often do people want to say something negative but fear retribution because: 1) they might hurt the affected party, or 2) (more likely) they’re worried that people will no longer respect/like them and possibly will condemn them?
Take a recent article in Decanter about French actor-winemaker-restaurateur Gerard Depardieu who “disdains biodynamics, Jamie Oliver and ‘bullshit industrial wines'”. The brief description of the upcoming article in Decanter depicts Depardieu as an enemy of the biodynamic movement in France because he considers it to be a poor use of resources available to the winemaker. Since this is only a description of his upcoming article, it doesn’t go into specifics, but it’s still fun to read about those who don’t shy away from controversy. Natural, organic and biodynamic wines are better for the sustainability of the earth – right? If you believe members of the wine “naturalist” movement like Alice Feiring who recently wrote a book called “The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization” you would believe that only
“natural” wines (wines that have not been “over-manipulated” by chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides or any conditions set by man such as overuse of oak or sulfites) would be better tasting, better for you, and ultimately make the universe a better place to live? As much as I enjoyed Ms. Feiring’s point of view in her book, and her very entertaining style, I’m still a skeptic: can you taste the difference in a wine untouched by man’s alleged intervention? Isn’t wine in fact a man-made product and today’s wines are actually better tasting, with less bacterial issues than ever before?
To answer my own question–I’m really not sure of the answer, but I think pointing the finger at winemakers that use new technologies to get a product to market that the market actually wants to consume is not in itself a bad thing. Give the people what they want as the saying goes. On the other hand, I am TOTALLY impressed by winemakers who attempt to use natural methods such as the phases of the moon and nature’s cycles to make a quality product. Personally, I grew totally organic vegetables this past summer just for that reason – I know I could have gotten higher yields and had less problems if I had sprayed and used other chemicals and soil agents, but I chose not to..why? Because the challenge is to work with what nature gives you. Sure, I could grow massive tomatoes, but I wanted tomatoes that had intense flavors and plants that figured out how to resist disease on their own. This was a personal decision, not a decision I would suggest on others – if you want to eat organic, natural foods, go for it, I eat a mix of foods from natural to “manufactured”.
I started with Gerard and ended with my take on the “natural” wine movement’s main motives. In the end, to each his own, but at a minimum allow those on both sides to express their opinion. Liberal, conservative, radical, whatever, Gerard has taken a pretty racy unpopular view, heck he even condemns chefs like Jamie Oliver, my God, that’s the Naked Chef (or originally was)! Gerard, I’ll forego going “au naturel” in order to express, my own beliefs like you have – touche!
Charlie “I Drink On the Job” Adler