If This Is What "Natural" Wine Is All About...

For a brief stretch of my childhood, I took riding lessons. There was a mild-mannered horse named Chestnut, who I had as a regular. I had forgotten all about her until I tasted this wine, the apparently non-vintage 'El Mismo Pais' from Chile's Agricola Luyt. Sweaty saddle leather and hay-strewn manure come through prominently in this murky, light red. Funky is an understatement. Do I detect the scent of urine in the mid-palate?

The bottle was thrust into my hands with gusto after telling the wine shop manager that I was favoring translucent reds of lighter body and alcohol. At 11%, this qualified. Regrettably, however, it does not qualify as wine. More regrettable still is the $27 price I paid. I had figured the enthusiasm with which it was vouched for would translate into an exceptional experience. Nope. Which makes this the second-most expensive foray into barnyard aromas right behind those lessons with Chestnut.

There are no standards as to what constitutes "natural wine," but the term sure is thrown around a lot these days. At a minimum it suggests organic and/or biodynamic farming practices, and many would also say that in order to be called "natural," it can't have any additives, like sulfites, which help to stabilize and preserve the freshness of wine. Which is a bit of a strange one, since sulfites are both naturally-occurring and regulated. So, if this wine is representative of what "natural wine" is all about, I'll be sticking to regular organic wines labeled "May contain sulfites."