“The natural wine movement is an organic offshoot of people becoming more aware of the food they eat, where it comes from, how its made,” explains Amy Atwood, a distributor of natural wine and one of the coordinators of the week's agenda. “It's an extension of, 'Wait a minute, maybe that should apply to the beverages, too.'” Other terms used to refer to the small batch, include “real” and “honest” wines, though “natural” remains largely the industry standard.
Natural wines share a few common characteristics to earn this description. Generally they're made in small batches by makers who are very hands on with every step of the process, from the field to cellar. Non-mega-industrial and organic (again, tricky terms) methods start in the vineyards, and Atwood notes that the cellar doesn't get turned into a “laboratory,” with the large amounts of acids, tannins, and sulfur additives that are typical of industrial quality wine production.
Put simply, “it's the difference between buying a fresh sourdough from your corner bakery versus sliced bread from the grocery store,” says Atwood.
The week's events include:
• Monday Supper at Lou on Vine with special guest, importer Savio Soares, who will share wines from his portfolio of mostly French natural wines. The dinner starts at 7:00 p.m. and costs $75 per person. Chef DJ Olsen's menu features Carlsbad blond oysters with red ogo, blood orange gelée; tea-smoked Alaskan white salmon with sorrel sauce, and purple frills mustard; merguez-spiced Healthy Family Farms with lamb loin chop, beluga lentils, and black bean sauce; bison tenderloin with parsnip potato purée, and smoked tomato demiglace; dried cherry almond cake with fresh cherry mascarpone.
• Natural wine tasting with Atwood and Soares at Palate on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.
• Taste California Terroir, a natural wine tasting that brings together wineries and winemakers such as Scholium Project, LIOCO, and Ah!/Edmunds St. John at Heath Ceramics on Beverly Blvd., curated by local wine shop Domaine LA on Saturday, May 15 (tickets $25 each).
• A five-course sumptuous Gamay wine dinner at Grace following Taste California Terroir at 8:15 ($95 per, plus tax and gratuity). This event is limited to 24 guests.
• A symposium with writers Alice Feiring and the Weekly's Jonathan Gold, and winemakers Jared Brandt, Hank Beckmeyer of La Clarine, Scholium Project's Abe Schoener, and Randall Graham of Bonny Doon at LACE in Hollywood on Sunday, May 16 to discuss natural wine, which as you might have figured, can be more complicated than it sounds, as wine matters tend to be. But that doesn't mean you can't learn and, most importantly, enjoy.