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Sunday, September 7, 2014


NATURAL WINE; in introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally (Cico Books, 2014; distr. T. Allen, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-78249-100-2, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Isabelle Legeron, the first French woman to become a Master of Wine, She runs the RAW Natural Wine Festival in London, and consults with restaurants and promotes "natural" wine. She's also got a website, with a TV show on the Travel Channel under that name. There is a large argument raging in the wine world over what is a natural wine. Some believe that it should be applied only to organic and biodynamic farms; others think it should also mean "sustainable" or "green", etc. The key would simply be to get rid of the word "natural" and just have "organic or biodynamic" and "sustainable". It is only the organic and biodynamic wines that are certifiable. There are no controls over the rest of the "natural" wording on the label. Indeed, some organic wineries just press organic grapes and then use regular winemaking techniques. They can still call their wines organic. I know of many farms who use the term "natural" to reflect their organic practices, because they just do not have the money nor the wait time to apply for certification. Legeron offers one of the first books meant for the general reader to cover O & B wines. In general, wine is a process, and it is also an industry. Wineries try to be consistent from year to year because they have a product to sell. The weather determines what about of "corrections" the winemaker needs to take (more acid, earlier/later picking, more sugar, more irrigation, etc.). A natural O & B winery rolls with the punches and produces wine "as is". The author takes us through the year and discusses wine faults, stability, health issues, taste, fermentation, sulphites, and a load of contentious issues. She's assisted from time to time by other writers such as Nicolas Joly, Tony Coturri, and 11 others. She gives notes on 140 wines, sorted by types (bubbly, red, white, rose, sweet). Not surprisingly, France has the most listings, followed by Italy: these are the two leaders by production. Canada has one mention (Pearl Morissette in Niagara, a Chardonnay), but none in the longer list of "other" wineries. Other additional sections cover a glossary, lists of associations and wine fairs, restaurants and stores for the US and UK, and a bibliography
Audience and level of use: the curious reader, wine lovers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: "soils harbor 80 percent of the world's biomass. Earthworms alone, for example, amount to about the same weight as all other animals combined."
The downside to this book: too many gratuitous photos of just bottles and the like.
The upside to this book: a beginning – let's have more.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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