Documented By: Notwasted
Natural wine is trending – and for good reason. The term itself suggests something wholly better for our bodies, and as the founder of Notwasted, Elliot Scali, explains, natural wine is also better for the planet (and your palate).
Scali launched Notwasted, a curated natural wine delivery service, to satisfy an itch: he wanted to showcase great natural wines and winemakers, and make exceptional natural drops more accessible. “It’s like when you read a really good book or see a movie, you just want people to experience what you have so badly,” he says.
So, what exactly is “natural” wine? And how is it better for the environment? As enthusiastic drinkers, but sadly not experts, we asked Scali to give us the lowdown on natural wine, including his personal recommendations for first-time sippers.
Q. The basics first and foremost: What is a 'natural' wine?
It’s always a hotly contested topic. The general consensus amongst respectable vignerons and industry people, and what I stand by, is that a wine is natural if it is farmed organically or biodynamically, incorporates the indigenous yeasts and [contains] no additives apart from a touch of sulphur at bottling.
If you wanted to, you can go so much deeper in areas like hand-harvesting, filtering, fining, manual or machine press – the list could be never-ending.
Q. What are the benefits of drinking natural wine, for both the person and the environment?
There are probably three things that stick out for me. Firstly, natural wines just taste better. There is more grape. More energy. Less stiffness. You kind of just have to experience it yourself.
Secondly, environment is a huge one. We could get technical, but essentially when you support growers and winemakers who vouch for biodiversity, sustainability and to leave the land in a better state than they found it, you’re making a point. Not just in wine, but across all industries and with your dollars you can create positive change.
The last is supporting a community. Natural winemakers are often starting with nothing but a fiery passion to create delicious drops. They are independent, small-batch and small businesses.
Documented By: Notwasted
Q. Let's dig a little deeper on that environmental point: what do organic and biodynamic winemakers do differently from an agricultural perspective and how does that benefit the environment?
Organic and biodynamic winemakers will not use insecticide, fungicide, or any systemic spray. The benefits lie in the preservation of soil health. When you spray to kill one insect or one type of fungi, you are also ruining the microbial dynamics of the soil. Over time, you impact the future ability to grow from that soil or grow healthy and disease-resistant plants. Not only that but insecticides and fungicides affect our planet’s biodiversity which has ramifications for everything from the air, to the water and food we eat. It’s a crisis that is already real.
Organic and biodynamic are just labels in the aether of sustainability. If you meet a winemaker or farmer who is really passionate about this topic, they are going far beyond this. For them, it becomes more of a philosophy and way of life where everything on their farm is positively contributing to another area and everything is one big natural ecosystem.
Q. How should consumers approach selecting a natural wine – what are your top tips for choosing natural?
Look for colloquial terms that resonate with you. If you shop with us, use our ‘Mood’ filters. ‘Safe’ are those that won’t challenge your palate from conventional wines…all the way to ‘Funky’ which will.
Q. What are your favourite drops currently listed on Notwasted?
2018 Domaine de la Pinte Sav’Or Savagnin – orange.
2020 Les Fruits ‘Gonzo’ Cinsault Grenache – light red.
2020 Smallfry ‘Jellyfish’ Grenache – light red.