The RAW Wine fair has returned to Berlin, which is great news for anyone who wants to get a taste of the latest vintages of organic, minimal-intervention and natural wines. At the foodie paradise of Markthalle IX this Sunday, Berliners can taste, ogle and spit their way through the wares of over 100 winegrowers. From the classic mid-bodied food wines of Rioja, to rising stars like Istria’s aromatic whites and crisp reds or a rare Pinot Meunier (2000 bottles in a good vintage) from Germany’s historic Franken region, it’s all here.
What’s more, growers are bringing back forgotten and native grape varieties: Roditis or Hibernal for example, giving rise to a unique range of textures and flavours. Colloquially known as “natural wine”, exactly what is meant by this can – like the stuff itself – sometimes be a little cloudy. But undeniably the past 10 years has seen the quality of these minimal-intervention, pared down styles dramatically rise buoyed by hot demand from young Berliners.
The market for natural wine in Berlin started 10 years ago, according to Victor Schwab, who runs Ezsra with Lucie Fortova, the Neukölln bistro known for its Brandenburg-sourced food and wild ferments. His theory of natural wine is time. It takes time: “you need to give wine time to settle, a harvest in autumn 2020 means releasing (the wine to market) two years later.”
From offbeat styles to the precision of fine and rare wine, you’ll find more than a smattering of alternatives to suit your tastes this weekend, some of our finds include:
Fledermaus Rot 2017, from 2Naturkinder in Franken
Lithe freshness from the noble Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling) given a lift by a touch of naturally occurring carbonic gas. Growers Melanie Drese and Michael Völke eke out 1 or 2000 bottles a year from 0.8 ha of vine in the old wine-trading town of Kitzingen on the Rhine.
Las Tasugueras White 2018, from Bodegas Moraza in Rioja
A delicate white, fruit of spontaneous fermentation of Rioja’s signature Tempranillo grape from the storied Rioja Alta sub-region. Based in the famous wine town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, the Moraza family, now in their sixth generation, are going back to basics.
REFOŠK 2017, from Korenika & Moškon in Slovenia
All red fruit and lively freshness with a bit of bite, among the aspiring new reds of Slovenian Istria. The Korenika & Moškon family bottled their first vintage in 1990 and have never looked back.
One of the appeals of natural wine is the chance to uncover an earlier time, a sensory landscape from a world that until recently had been lost to us. Some lament how natural wine is presented, “they market the shit out of it”, says Julia Giese who runs natural wine merchant Return of the Living Wine in Kreuzberg with her partner Etienne Dodet. “I can’t relate to that.”
Natural wine may be having a moment but like all fashions, in the end, only the best will last.
Markthalle Neun, Eisenbahnstraße 42/43, Kreuzberg. Sun 28 November 2021, 10:00 to 20:00. 2G+ rules