RAW fair: are natural wines worth trying? - I Blame The Wine
Riberach organic natural wines

RAW fair: are natural wines worth trying?

Raw Fair is on the way (I am writing this when the last day is on, till 6pm today) in London’s trendy Brick Lane, and as a supporter of many things natural, organic, biodynamic and sustainable, I did not miss an opportunity to visit it yesterday.

Where it is: The Old Truman Brewery, 83 Brick Ln, London E1 6QL.

First of all, some points on the organisation: there was a crowd of people, I did not expect so many people queuing (at some point they said the wait was for 20-30 mins), and the entry was organised quite well. Problems started to pile up from the entrance though – it was really warm inside, and after some time I found it was really difficult to breathe. All exhibitors, most of them winemakers themselves were placed very close to each other, so you could be tasting one wine, but listening to what other winemaker has to say about something absolutely different. Crowded space did not help my note taking – it was to loud to record my comments and discussions on a digital voice recorder, but was difficult enough to manage it with a exhibitor list, pen, phone for taking pictures and a glass for tasting. I wish the exhibitors has more space in between so it is easier to talk.

Yet all and all, it is a celebration of natural wines. I could not imagine there would be that many – there were 205 stands, out of which 195 were exclusively wine related. Can you manage to taste 195 wines, or shall I make this even more challenging when you approach a stand and ask to taste a whole range?

There were spittoons though, so my afternoon of tasting nearly 100 wines did not end up feeling tipsy or even worse! I could see some people making a real good use of their £30 they paid for the entrance. Good for them!

Carussin natural organic wine

First thing you notice is the arty and colourful wine labels. Photography is not really my strength, so I was not even planning to try and capture the most unusual ones, but some of they were really colourful or simply an interesting concept.

In some cases, like the one at Carussin from Italian Piedmont, the fermentation of the wine is being carried out in fiberglass barrels with skin contact for 4 months. Their wine Asinoi 2014, Barbera d’Asti was light, refreshing, but lacking some fruit and power; yet with only 12% this red was indeed light.

Cabernet Franc organic ItalyAnother good find was this Cabernet Franc, and not from Loire or USA (usual suspects), but from Italy. Guess what, a good Cabernet Franc, its stony minerality and very refreshing and somewhat lighter character (as opposed to his Cab Sav brother) are same in Italy. I would not go that far to say it is identical as the soil is different, but you can identify it as Cabernet Franc. Very good job! Try it slightly chilled.



Denis Montanar is a family domain which enjoys 4 generations of winemaking tradition. The grapes are grown organically since 1996, he is also using only indigenous yeats, which means you can really say that the wines are natural. It is located in Friuli in Veneto, Italy.

I have tasted this Refosco 2012, which was light, so intensely perfumed and fruity that you can drink it lightly chilled on a warm day and forget about the time passing by.

Borc Dodon 2003 organic

If you are interested how a particular natural wine ages, as there were some ‘reports’ that is becomes stale after 2-3 years, well, I must say that this 2003 Uis Neris (borc Dodon) from the same winery is not stale in any way – you can recognise that the wine has some age to it as the colour is not vibrant red, but more light garnet, and there are some additional layers to it, which developed over time. Apart from organic, it is also low in sulphite content – just 21 mg/l, so no harmful chemicals can prevent you from enjoying it in full. It is light, but has a lot of character to it.

Val Parwsse Faugeres 2009 Grenache Syrah Mourvedre

La Grange d’Ain from Languedoc, France was another stop. Their Le Cedre 2013 is 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan and has a good pleasant aroma, jucy palate and generous fruit with ripe tannins. Very pleasant.

Le Penchant Du Cerisier 2013 stood out for me simply because the label has a big name ‘Dimitri’ printed on it. Such fun! They have explained that they offer a branded wine, where you can order a case or more as a gift or simply buy it to serve at your party or special occasion, such a good idea! This one was a reverse from the above, 80% Carignan and 20% Grenache and the aromas were rather weak, but it definitely delivered on the elegance of flavour.

Val Paresse 2009 was their recommended wine as it is made from the classic trio from the region Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre, and it was really exciting one! It was playful, with the lingering finish, juicy, but robust as well. It lacked the finesse of the previous one, but such a flavour explosion!

Riberach organic natural wines

Following to the neighbouring region of Roussillon, Riberach is the project that started in 2006 with the aim to fully represent the terroir, soil and climate. They are using indigenous varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Maccabeu. The creativity on the label was simply stunning. I did like the naming as well!

Rouge no.12 2012, IGP Cotes Catalanes, is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Aromas were not great, but flavours were light, refresing and juicy.

Synthese Rouge 2010 was a blend with Carignan being a dominant variety. The is very pleasant, perfumed, fruity, rich, but refreshing.  Antithese Rouge 2011 was a Syrah dominated blend, from which I expected slightly more, I admit, it was approachable, not bad at all, but not exciting and simply boring in my mind. Yet their These Rouge 2012 made from Grenache grown on the slate soils was extremely interesting – one dimension of generous fruit was underlined by another dimension of rich minerality and elegance. Riberach is also a hotel with 11 rooms and 7 suits, offering gastrononic and wine tours.

Yet not everything was that exciting and packed with wonderful flavours.

My stop at Altolandon from Castilla la Mancha, Spain got me to taste Irrepetible 2013, Mancuela made from Syrah and Malbec. Whilst the aromas were quite mellow and fruity, the flavours were very simplistic and somewhat lacking fruit and generosity – will not be looking forward to trying it again.

Next one was Vinos Malaparte from Castilla y Leon, Spain. I have tried their Malaparte Monton De Pinas 2010, which was fined with eggs, so not suitable for vegans; made from 100% Tempranillo it has quite typical strawberry-plum aromas, but taste-wise appeared very tannic and alcoholic, lacking fruit. Las Lomas 2013, made from Syrah and Tempranillo revealed quite off-putting aromas, and then taste did not uncover anything interesting either.

Coming to El Celler de les Aus from Catalonia, Spain. Their wine Merla, that contained no sulphites, was a Monastrell-based, quite thin, which is unusual for such a robust grape, but moderately fruity with quite a short finish and refreshing aftertaste. Mm, I don’t think it is the star of the show.

Sedella Vinos from Andalucia, Spain, presented a few wines made from Roman grape variety namely Sedella 2013 and Lederas De Sedella 2013 – they were both lacking some interesting aromas, tannic, acidic and definitely lacked fruit and balance.

Vinos Ambiz organicMost probably the worst in terms of the quality, balance and flavours were the wines from Vinos Ambiz – they has very weak aromas and extremely sharp and alcoholic edge to the taste; both Garnacha and Tempranillo 2013 did not contain any sulphites, but unfortunately no major flavour as well. Sad times.


Respiro Cabernet Sauvignon Organic Ohio

American winemaking was a quick stop as there were just a few. Via Vecchia from Ohio, USA (do they do wines in Ohio?! Apparently so!) was presenting just one wine – Respiro 2013, Lodi from sub AVA Mokelumne River. Grapes are imported from Lodi, California and then processed at their Ohio winery, the flavours were quite sweet, jammy and not typical to Cabernet Sauvignon as we know it, nevertheless not bad at all. Are we drinking sweeter wines though? @ViaVecchiaVino : Linsday, I promised to say hello to you!:)

Ambyth Estate Re Vera organicI have tweeted about Ambyth Estate from the show already, but it is worth an additional note that apart from their ‘orange’ wine that is made like a normal white wine, but fermented on skins, which makes it still refreshing, but deep orange in colour and much more full-bodied than your normal white counterpart. My favourite organic one from them was a Mourvedre-dominated blend, flavours are very nice, restrained but juicy with pronounced black and forest fruit. Another surprise came from the fact that even though they are from California, but not particularly in favour of jammy Zinfandel styles – they blend it with another varieties to achieve lighter and more refreshing styles.

Clot de les Soleres from Catalonia, Spain, presented Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 with no added sulphites and it was an interesting one: garnet in colour, very nice aromas of cassis and plums, playful flavours, slightly jammy, but intriguing and lingering finish. Not bad at all!

Milenico 2012 organic Ribera del DueroMilenico 2012 Ribera del Duero had a very powerful set of aromas, but just right, not overpowering. It is typical Ribera del Duero flavour, but also temperament and character showing generous strawberry and vanilla flavours, with oaky toffee and liquorice and noticeable tannins.  It is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, which were organically grown on 50 years old vines and also on some newer vines planted in early 90s. These pleasant mature flavour sensations are coming from 12 month maturation is small oak barrels followed by 12 months in bottle. Steep slopes, hillsides, poor lands and Duero river are the factors that make this wine powerful and delicious, naturally.

OM Oliver Moragues organic MallorcaOM Oliver Moragues from Mallorca, Spain was my highlight of the day! The winemakers was so passionate and enthusiastic that the wines were simply shining! OM 500 2013 was made from 40% Mallorcan indigenous varieties and 60% classic French, it had a bit of sweet touch to it, yet very tannic and complex on the nose and interesting in flavour. Possessio D’om 2014 is the one made predominantly from the local grape Manto negro. It is light, but fruity, very perfumed with strawberry, raspberry and touches of forest fruit, has some notes of oak and earthiness as it was matured for 6 months; perfect chilled!

Their top of the range was OM Seleccio 2013 with a bit lighter aromas of strawberry, forest fruit and elegant woodiness coming from maturation in French oak. These wines are perfect on a sunny day, lightly chilled and enjoyed with grill, vegetables and light snacks. Will you take it to the beach as well?  Mallorca is not just a packaged holiday destination, it has a lot to offer in terms of wine and gastronomy. Simply bravo.

Natural wine movement may be at its start in London, but  it is clear that many consumers are not attracted to natural wines that express some quite off-putting aromas that are noticeable in majority of no sulphite added wines. At the same time, a few notable winemakers produce these organic natural wines to the top of its class standard allowing wine drinkers to enjoy playfulness and intriguing flavours in some, but also power, complexity and concentration in others. Some natural wines are indeed short lived and should be consumed young and fresh, lightly chilled, and with your everyday dinners or even weekend brunches. The most concentrated wines will be able to age well, as we can see that there are examples of these aged wines, they are incredibly delicious.

Know what you are drinking, and drink organic, naturally!

P.S. Unfortunately, at the time of writing most of the above reviewed wines are not available in the UK, the artisan producers are seeking representation. If you want to try some of the natural and organic wines that are available, visit my Best Organic Wines page for reviews, ratings and where to buy them. Cheers!

About The Author


Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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