We wanted to take a minute to review what we saw at Raw Wine 2018 this year and reflect on where the natural wine community is heading. As importers focused on natural wines, we love the opportunity to both see who is new and not represented in the states yet as well as fangirl over the famous producers at these events.
Below we'll run through a small sampling who created the biggest line for their wine, was new and interesting, and hot topics of conversation at the event.
Are you prepping for 2019 RAW?!
We'll be there and are hosting a producer event!
Longest Lines for a Pour
No surprise here that Gut Oggau (photo by @nattywinesnyc) had one of the largest crowds at the event. They had the entire family line-up available, meaning that if you wanted to taste everything you were going to be there a few minutes, and thus get squished by the people behind you also want a taste and moment with this gorgeous couple.
They had all the most recent vintages and none of the "family reunion" versions, which is a very interesting story for them if you haven't heard it already. We hit these guys up as soon as our regular work was done and can say it was definitely worth the wait - we even picked up a couple of bottles on our way out of New York to take home with us!
We just had to put La Garagista at the top of the list knowing we were going to be up in Vermont sharing food and wine the following weekend with Dierdre, Stitchdown Farm, the rest of the Vermont crew. We were lucky enough to get to try some of their most recent releases - the Pet Nat coloring is like nothing we'd ever seen before, and the vinous cider is something that really stuck with us. It would be made even the strongest opponent to co-fermentation rethink their position.
Overall, we love what they're doing up in Vermont and wish there was more of this wine to go around, as it's incredibly hard to find so everyone at the NY Raw Wine was really lucky to get in on some of their bottles. Want to learn more about La Garagista and what's going on in Vermont? Stay tuned - we'll be writing a review of our Harvest Dinner experience in a couple of weeks!
We didn't even get the chance to visit these lovely Swedes this time because the hype was so huge! From Frizzante sweaters to colorful logos and seriously funky booze, the guys at Fruktstereo had the entire room gravitating towards them all weekend.
Beyond their huge personalities, the ciders they make are also incredible and the first ones in the Jenny & Francois portfolio. We're expecting to hear a lot more about these guys next year as people keep getting more and more into the idea of co-fermentation.
New and Interesting
Il Monte Caro:
Valpolicella is a delicious variety and not one of the first ones I think of when it comes to natural wine. The idea of no oak is intriguing and creates an incredibly fresh and lightness to the Valpolicella and Superiore. Slight resonating on the Superiore and by the time you get to the Amarone you know you've found something far from the traditional with long appeasement (drying period) but still no hint of wood.
We all have that friend that is your biggest champion and speaks higher of you than you do yourself, Domaine Mamaruta has that in Coral Wang who spoke of these wines with such passion as she poured that you felt like you were there while you tasted. The vines are located in the Aude, on the eastern side of the Languedoc. From hairy yaks to vineyard dogs and everything in between, it's clear that Mamaruta is focusing on getting back to the roots of what wine and winemaking once was. We haven't had the pleasure of meeting Marc yet, but we can't wait to discuss the great things he's doing with Carignan and GSM blends, mainly using old oak.
Overall the Languedoc-Roussillon region was well represented at the event given its great environment for natural wines and the moment it's having now for growth in young winemakers. Of those there, Mamaruta was the one that shone brightest not only because of Coral's emphatic descriptions, but because the line-up was incredibly balanced and delicious.
Chillin next to Radikon was a fun couple from Friuli making both serious and seriously fun wines called Villa Job. Using grapes like Tocai, Pinot Grigio, and Ribolla Gialla with different levels of maceration, the nose on these was killer and complex, then the finish had amazing texture and depth of flavor.
Already doing some distribution on the west coast you may be able to find Villa Job in CA, OR, or WA.
Trends and Themes
Pét-Nat is a favorite of natural winemakers
No surprises here that Pétillant Naturel was a big topic at the fair. So many of the wines making a big splash right now (ex. Vini di Giovanni 'Ciliegiozzo' Pét Nat Rosato 2017 sold out all over) have some kind of fizz to them. We love these wines, and while we haven't found one we love enough to put into our line-up or wine club yet, stay tuned because there are a lot of samples coming our way!
Ciders are getting big
Another one that shouldn't surprise anyone considering a couple of the shout-outs we put above. Cider and co-fermentation is a big topic of exploration at the moment and my projection is that we'll continue to see producers in cold areas (like Vermont and Sweden) continue to pop up and find success in this market. It also creates a nice promise of a more localized wine culture in areas that aren't able to grow vines easily but have loads of other fruit available.
Overall, as our first Raw Wine, we were really excited to see the community of people around natural wine continuing to grow and the trends that are affecting the way we're currently buying and consuming these wines. While we haven't been to the other fairs, they'll definitely be on our list for future scouting destinations for our portfolio and we can't wait for the next one!
Are you prepping for 2019 RAW?! We'll be there and are hosting a producer event!Check it out!