A Disclaimer for Patience: The following deviates from the technical description of wine. Coming to France, my wine knowledge was limited, if you could call it knowledge at all. Learning about wine is like learning a second language. In my case, it's a third language because French fluency is a prerequisite to being able to question wine and the processes played out before me. With this in mind, this article is more of a feeling than a fact.
Natural wine, biodynamic wine, the kind of wine Aline makes here at Domain des Mathouans, is wine in its most essential form. It is a fist full of squeezed grapes, and the inevitable passage of time. It is a tradition carried on from our most early of ancestors.
But to hear Aline and Renaud talk about their wine is to add a layer of complexity to this startling simplicity. They believe they get back everything they put into the vines--and they aren't speaking about the elements of water, air, sun, and earth. Aline sings to her grapes. In the winter, where a tractor could easily be used, Renaud opts for a horse-pulled plow. He believes it brings a different vibration, in his words, to the land. They both hold a firm believe of being happy while working. Bitterness, resentment, general grumpiness, negative attitudes of any kind aren't welcome in the fields. They don't want those feelings anywhere near the grapes; they don't want those feelings to sour the wine. There's a certain glow of enlightenment to these farmers believing so spiritually in the work they do. But I, ever the contrary person, struggle to grapple with this concept.
They prove me wrong though, every time we discuss natural wine over the dinner table. There is natural wine: wine made without chemical, and minimal technological, intervention in the process. Furthering the concepts of natural wine is biodynamic wine: wine made with the incorporation of biodynamic viticulture--farming with a spiritual mindedness. Soil health, vine fertility, animal welfare--they're all interconnected, and they all contribute to a good bottle of Mine de Rien Moscato. I can most closely relate it to my academic studies of ecofeminism.
After tasting their wine, you can't look them in the face and tell them they're wrong.
Natural wine is living wine. It changes throughout its lifespan; matures, degrades. It tastes different from the barrel to the bottle to the reserves as the sugar ages and reacts with different oxygen levels. At first it has all the room it wants to roam and breath and grow in the barrel. The sugar ferments, and wine in its infancy is created. It finds its legs, the body it will grow into, in the barrel. But then it's bottled. All of a sudden its vast, comfortable space is taken away. Oxygen deprivation kicks in; circulation halts. The wine is squished into a 75 cl bottle. It sits quietly in the glass. It can hibernate like this for ages, prolonging the typical lifespan of something living. Stalled in this state, it waits. Uncork it; release the wine from confinement, and it changes one final time. Do this in the right moment, and you will experience wine in its true form, tasting all the subtitles of maturity aged by time.
A perfect representation of the land from which it came.