Something I’m a little obsessed with is natural wines and that enthusiasm has literally come from my local street. There’s a bit of a movement happening in my neighbourhood. Large off-license chains have vanished and a new wave of independent wine merchants are entering the fray selling interesting, complex wines from obscure producers.
Pinch (aka Hackney’s smallest wine bar) are almost on our doorstep. The first time I went in they recommended a cloudy red, and I loved it so much that I googled it and learnt quite a bit about natural wines. That sparked a bit of an obsession, I have to admit! New restaurant The Richmond has just opened in our ‘hood too. Again the wine all natural and I loved them!
Digging a little deeper I found Isabelle Legeron, the wonderwoman who curates The Richmond wine list. Hence this fabulous interview with Isabel below. I am super excited to introduce you to her; she selects wines for some of the coolest restaurants around the globe as well as launching RAW (you have to go you guys it’s this weekend), and is passionate about promoting wines that are authentically made All natural, no additives, no sulphur, and 100% delicious as I can attest.
Why natural wines?
I was brought up on a farm with a vineyard, and so nature and foraging for things played a huge part of my childhood. But today’s wine world is so far removed from the land. It’s become a big global corporate business where number-crunching reigns and everything is measured to perfection, which didn’t really resonate with me. I started meeting people who thought slightly differently – who worked the land, had animals and foraged. In doing so I found a small stream of alternate wine makers and that’s how I discovered the world of natural wines.
Why do you think that some people in the wine biz are quite snooty/snobby about natural wines?
Essentially as a wine industry we are used to wines that are quite clinical and clean. So for example if I talk about Sauvignon Blanc, gooseberries come to mind – there are not many surprises. Flavour profiles are so mainstream and refined these days. But wine is becoming exciting and we are discovering complexity. Without added sulphur wines are much more complex, and it challenges us to think differently. Some people are scared of that and want perfection but I don’t. I think imperfection challenges us and adds diversity to the drink. Without extra sulphur, without all the technology, wine goes back to what it once was.
How do you go about selecting wines for a restaurant like The Richmond?
Brett Redman, The Richmond’s chef, is obsessed with quality ingredients for his kitchen. He also really understands the philosophy and co-relation between wine and food. If you care about what’s on the menu then it makes sense to choose natural wines.
Brett places a strong focus on seafood and oysters – elegant, beautiful food so I selected wines that are elegant, complex, easy to drink and not overly extracted or oaked. The list is ever evolving with over 6o wines, which will soon be doubled to 120 lines. I’ve sourced less well-known growers with interesting wines at different price points and styles.
Favourite drinking spot?
At home with friends. I pull from my cellar and it’s the best wine to have at home as it’s so digestible and delicious. Natural wines are great on their own and with food.