In my day-to-day life in the wine business, I’ve noticed a curious class of wine aficionado for whom “fruit” equates with “manipulation” in a wine.
But let’s take a step back. What do I mean by “fruit?” Fruit, as I see it, refers to the easily recognizable flavors of cherry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, peach, plum, and, yes, grape (et al), as opposed to the more earthy and savory flavors that are also common in many wines. There seems to be a false equivalence among natural wine-istas that if a wine has ripe, full fruit flavors it is, by very definition, overripe or over manipulated; that for a wine to be natural it must, inherently, have preponderance of acid, leather, dirt, pepper, and spice.
The problem with that position, is that there are certain varietals grown in certain regions that produce ripe, round fruit flavors naturally. In fact, to produce a wine that isn’t is inherently unnatural–something I encountered with some painfully under ripe chardonnay at the “In Pursuit of Balance” tasting.
Having a fundamental preference for earth over fruit is fine, but dismissing fruit as unnatural when it is anything but is shortsighted and arbitrarily limits the full range of pleasures honest, thoughtfully-made wines can provide.
Unrelated to the above and apropos of nothing in particular, check out Justin’s outline of a great movie never made, Hitlertaur vs. The Apache.