Despite starting in a relatively straight-forward manner, I soon found that Naked Wine began very hard to follow: the more the author became obsessed with the origins of the natural wine movement, the more the writing seemed to unravel and the more difficulty I had working out who people were. In short, this book offers a very cursory look at a particular side of the natural wine movement, and in a very personal way. I would have prefered something more general and more instructive.
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Journey for natural wine30 août 2011
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I loved Alice Feiring's first book--The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization--in which Alice goes in search of the answer to why a wine she loved is no longer the way she remembered it. This book, similarly, is a search for something important to Alice. In this case, it is so-called natural wine and how it developed. In order to describe it more aptly, she has called it "naked wine." It is a story of vignerons, scientists, pioneers in many places, including France, California and Spain. Alice visits these places to delve into what motivates these winemakers to make this kind of wine. Her adventures are always interesting and are written in a descriptive style that helps the reader to picture the setting, the people and how the discussions must have taken place. She also uses similes as further descriptors. I enjoyed this book immensely and found Alice's adventures in searching for the derivation of the modern natural wine "movement" to be fun and captivating.
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This book is a must read5 octobre 2011
- Publié sur Amazon.com
For a wine drinker who is also into natural foods, this book is essential. It is a nonfiction book that reads like a novel, drawing you into the author's passion for unadulterated wines, grapes grown without chemicals, a finished product without additives. Although the book is loaded with information, it also is a good story of the author's hands-on introduction to the wine-making process. The vividly described "characters" in this book are the winemakers and the vineyards themselves. Now that the author has revealed how most commercial wines are produced, I want to go to every wine merchant and demand a good selection of natural wines.
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A fun sketch of characters, a good primers of names.28 août 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
A good book chronicling a very under covered part of the new old wine world at large. This book talks about the discovery and rediscovery of great bold wine techniques. Technological wine making has been pushed to its limits and left us with a syrupy or hyper perfect enterprise class winery genre the world over. The emergence of the popular farm to table movement has finally started to reach critical mass in the wine world with natural wine making methods.
The knock on this book is the narration, at times the author reverts to a fairly median New York neurosis coupled with a subtle lightly masked vintners classism. She seems to want to make a have and have not list of wine makers based on geography that is almost apologetic and insulting to the non French wine makers.
My take is this... there is a world of wine, a world of terroir; to ignore a wine from California, Croatia, or New Zealand just because of its longitude/latitude is to give in to a superstition akin to believing that stepping on a crack will break your spine. A good wine knows no history, no allegiance, no flag, it is simply the product of a great year in the life of this world.
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So much less than it could have been.31 décembre 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I wanted to like this book. I had hoped for a non- (or even semi-) judgmental account of the various "minimal interventionist" movements in the wine-making world, perhaps a clear and reasoned explanation and comparison of sustainable vs. organic vs. biodynamic vs. vin naturel vs. Fukuoka farming. After all, there does exist a category of wine known colloquially as factory wines, wines subject to all the chemical and technological manipulations available or imaginable. Grapes blended from parcels hundreds of miles apart, overdosed with sulfur, over-extracted, temperature controlled, stripped of natural yeasts, pumped full of additions ranging from wood chips to acids, and finally, filtered to within an inch of their vinous lives to present a bright, clear, clean, consistent beverage totally devoid of personality, of any sense of people or place. An industrial product, made with the same concern for "natural" or "unprocessed" as any other industrial product... think individually-wrapped, processed cheese slices as opposed to an artisanal, farm-made wheel of cheddar or brie.
In terms of marketing, these behemoths push out millions of bottles per year and usually pay for, and get, prime shelf space. On the other hand, in absolute numbers, there are far more small to mid-sized wineries around the world working tirelessly to produce delicious, authentic, and stable wines for our drinking pleasure. So, while the over-manipulation of wine by some is and should be of concern, the author's need to tar and feather every wine-maker who doesn't concur with her "theories" of wine-making (based only, it seems, only on her attraction to the "passion" of a very small group of extremist wine-makers, as the author herself has no background or experience whatsoever as a winemaker until, concurrent with the writing of this book, a wine-grower in California allowed her to participate in the making of a tiny batch of Sagrantino) is no less than blind adherence to a questionable dogma.
The "natural" wines that she so forcefully advocates for are, at best, a mixed bag. Wine is a product prone to quick and easy spoilage. It is spoilage, in fact, and the fight against it, that underlie much of the work done in both vineyard and winery. Yes, at times some things may be done to excess, but the majority of conscientious wine-makers use a judicious hand. They may like a certain yeast strain because it emphasizes a particular group of aromas or prevents a stuck fermentation in specific conditions, or prefer new oak to neutral, but this hardly makes them boogeymen. Actually, most tastings of "natural" wines will feature a number on the road to spoilage, a number sporting what can only be described as "odd" flavors, and some very good, very interesting wines.
Unfortunately, Ms. Feiring name-drops tirelessly, implying her acceptance into this group or that, in a quest for credibility. She will probably hate that I'm saying this, but that's how much of her writing comes across. And in the end, even her favored gurus tell her that she is, essentially, missing the point. The two leading names in the so-called Vin Naturel movement disagree, for example on the use of carbonic maceration and while her new best buds try to avoid sulfur, even they admit to its use when necessary. After all, who benefits from a vintage spoiled and lost because of a self-righteous refusal to use even a touch of sulfur, a natural additive that has, incidentally, been used in wine-making for at least two thousand years. And try as she might. Ms. Feiring was unable to uncover any philosophical, love-the-planet rationale for the move to reduce sulfur usage in the first place. Yes, in excess it's both acrid and unnecessary, yet all that the leading, consulting oenologist in the world of natural wines would say is that he and his friends moved to minimize sulfur so they wouldn't suffer such horrendous hangovers; it seems they were exceptionally heavy drinkers and were looking for no more than a "gentler" hangover to deal with in the mornings.
The writing is sloppy: "...we followed Jordi to a one-row town, just over the border in Tarragona, with ten cats and forty dogs." What, exactly, is a one-row town? And why were they following Jordi with ten cats and forty dogs? Or this: "'Do you want to see our vines?' she asked, turning to me in the backseat, her dog in the rear, slobbering all over me." Is the author the dog in the rear? And who is slobbering on whom? In any case, they stop, park the car and walk into a vineyard. A few paragraphs later we're treated to: "We left the barren vines, and within seconds Amy was fishing around in her fridge." I've been in lots of vineyards but have yet to see a refrigerator in one. And if they had to drive from the vineyard to Amy's house, even somewhere nearby, how was that all managed "within seconds"? I don't entirely fault Ms. Feiring for this messiness; it reads much like anyone's first draft. But where was the editor? Either disengaged or missing in action. This not the level of prose one expects from a serious publisher.
All that said, and yes, Ms. Feiring, it may be harsh, though accurate, the book is still worth a read. It's short and its author alive and ready for a fight. One hopes that in her next outing she will delight us with her wit and enthusiasm and address one of the many wine subjects yet to be fully explored -- and leave the proselytizing to others.
A Take on "Natural" Wine Making from a New York Wine Snob31 juillet 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
If you're a wine snob looking for a read of another wine snob rutting in the dirt with vine growers, and actually crushing grapes with her feet, and making wine without added yeast, this is your book.
Really, this is a story of how Alice (the NY City wine snob) heads down a rabbit hole and flying around the world looking for "natural" wine making and sampling the results. She likes to throw out the big words like "Vigneron", "elevage", "terroir" "pigeage" but there is no glossary to help us figure out what the hell they mean - so a lot of times I didn't know what the hell she was talking about. But I think these words were designed to illuminate my inferiority (and stupidity) - so that so that I'd bestow to Alice the "awe" and the crown of the all-knowing New York wine expert. Snobs like to use big words. It appears to elevate them from the rest of us morons down here in the dirt trying to grow grapes and make wine.
It's too bad that us wine lovers can't blend Alice's thin bland acidic prose with the thick, robust, humorous, and self-deprecating descriptions offered by author Mary Roach - who discusses complex subjects but brings them to us with humor and illumination.
Alice Feiring writes like a Sergeant Friday reporter (just the fact ma'm) mixed with her own seemingly one-dimensional emotions. The reader sometimes has to forge through the writing (Should I say "tromp through"?) to find the "good stuff" - the ripe clusters of knowledge hidden behind the leaves of bland text.
But I do feel (as a grape grower and wine maker) that Alice has a point - that American wines are way too processed - with way too many additives. Perhaps the growth of small U.S. vineyards will bring back the more natural wine and decent that she found in this book. (Which she has been kind enough to list for us to sample - worth the price of the book!) Overall, I learned a lot from this book, it's well worth the price.