The BuyConscious team is willing to do pretty much whatever it takes in the name of research, including drinking bottles upon bottles of wine. Yes, we care enough to do that for you. We tested a few to come up with recommendations worthy of toasting our great nation this July 4th, or pretty much any time ’cause a toast to America is always appropriate. Skip down to the list if you are headed straight to the store (you can also buy online) or read through to get the back-story on the wines we’ve featured and the “natural wine” movement.
For me, wine has been elusive and challenging to understand. At times it has seemed expensive, disconnected from meaning, funky, corky, mysterious, embarrassing, sexy, or basically just some sort of status symbol.
But things are changing. Over the last few years, I’ve started to connect with wine. I’ve watched a few documentaries (Somm) and had some conversations that have helped me understand the industry, art, and science behind the fruit of the vine and the stories that flow from each bottle.
My friend and wine-muse Andrea broke it down for me. She said, “we spoke about fast-food and fast-fashion, well, what you’ve been experiencing is fast-wine.” Then something clicked and I realized that until I cared about the winemakers, vineyards and the process I would not truly understand the value of wine.
Andrea warned me that the term “Natural Wine” was hard to define. It means a myriad of things to different people. Every definition I found aligns with our mantra; these wines give back in so many unique ways and the people involved are intensely passionate about preserving the legacy of their craft. One definition of natural wine is simply “pure” and “kind to the planet.” Other terms associated with the topic include: Minimal Intervention, Terroir, Biodynamic and organic. The distributors Jenny & Francois break it down best on their website.
I’m beginning to understand that for mass production of wine, consumers, retailers and distributors want to know that the wine will be consistent, bottle after bottle, year after year. That kind of homogeny just isn’t natural. These mass wine producers rely on on chemicals, sugar and lots of un-natural things to strip wine of its character. They might also rely on pesticides and other growing practices that we don’t think are cool. In my research I also discovered that even some small lot wine might be made in plastic, bringing up BPA concerns.
I’m going all-in on Natural Wine; join me (please don’t make me drink alone)!? Andrea helped me pick out several options from Astor Wines, in my New York City neighborhood. They also ship across the country and are currently running a 20% off American wines for Independence Day promotion. We chose wines specifically to taste and serve at my July 4th weekend BBQ extravaganza. Blaire (from the BC team) along with Meredith (our brilliant photographer), kindly lent their palates to the cause. Below, is a carefully crafted conscious wine list for your boozefest freedom-fest enjoyment (please enjoy responsibly, a designated driver is only ever a call [or app] away).
Larmandier-Bernier “Longitude” Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 1er Cru – NV (grape variety: Chardonnay / Champagne, France) earthy apple, this one is sensational pre or post dinner
Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine “Clos de Briords”, Domaine de la Pepière – 2013 (grape variety: Melon de Bourgogne / Loire Valley, France) mineral driven, austere – begging to be sipped with oysters *personal favorite*
Donkey and Goat, Grenache Blanc – 2011 (grape variety: Grenache Blanc / El Dorado, California) dry finish, stellar with fish *American*
La Clarine Farm, Jambalaia Blanc – 2013 (grape variety: Viognier, Marsanne, Petit Manseng, Fiano and Arneis / Sierra Foothills, California) don’t let the pungent bouquet fool you, this wine is tasty – complex and unique goes with pretty much anything or sips well on its own *American*
Matthiasson Rosé – 2013 (grape variety: Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, and Counoise / Sonoma, California) delicious, need we say more (with a burger!) *American*
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, VV, Eric Texier – 2010 (grape variety: Grenache Mourvèdre / Rhône Valley, France) great with steak and chocolate (we tested it), much-admired natural producer
AmByth Estate “Bailey Vineyard” Paso Robles – 2011 (grape variety: Zinfandel / San Luis Obispo, California) “lively” and anything but ordinary this wine is so unique it stands on its own, but we decided we would like to serve ours with humanely raised skirt steak and chimichurri *American* *personal favorite*
If you want to venture out off the beaten path, and we hope you will, check out this list of natural wine producers by region.
You can also call or visit your local wine store and ask if they carry wines from any of these importers/distributors: Louis Dressner , Jenny & Francois Selections, Kermit Lynch. Andrea says, “These importers are serious when it comes to low-intervention. They simply won’t carry anything else in their portfolio. Check out their websites – they’ve kindly listed all the producers they import and distribute to our country. It’s safe to say that any wines from them are stellar!”
We can’t wait to see your recommendations and what you find, tag us on Instagram or Twitter with #buyconsciouswine.
Photos: Meredith Eves Flynn