2016 Markou Kleftes Savatiano Sulphur Free, 12.5%
How much do we know about natural wine? In the April issue of Decanter magazine last year, the rise of natural wines was brought to the attention of wine consumers. The ‘trend’ of drinking natural wine is gradually becoming a matter of lifestyle for many enthusiastic wine lovers.
So, what exactly is the natural wine? How different is it from the wines we are used to drinking? According to the Oxford Companion to Wine, what we call natural wine is a relative rather than an absolute term. It differentiates these types of wine according to the winemaking processes (or philosophies). Typically, the grapes are grown by small-scale, independent producers, they are harvested by hand from sustainable, organic, or biodynamic vineyards. The wine is fermented without any extra yeasts (meaning only the natural yeasts existing on the grapes are used) or additives, and little or no sulfites are added for refining. This definition, unfortunately, indicates that the term “natural wine” is quite vague and we have to uncover in what specific ways a bottle of such wine is indeed “natural”.
The 2016 Kleftes from Markou Vineyards, is a sulfur dioxide (SO2) free wine made from grapes grown in organic vineyards in the Koropi area of Attica, Greece. The name “Kleftes” in Greek is also the name for dandelion seeds, which carry your thoughts and dreams to the loved ones and present hope, dream, and the uncertainty of a new journey. If you have read our earlier wine review about Shinopefko Retsina in this blog, you will find that this wine is made with the same grape variety, from the same region as the retsina. In this case, what can we expect from a sulphite free wine to taste differently?
Normally, sulfur dioxide in winemaking is necessary to preserve the wine from oxidation and to refine the wine by preventing bacteria and unwanted yeasts. This is the same element as you may find in dried fruits from supermarkets. Without sulphite, Kleftes is obviously more oxidised and displays more characteristics of oxidation. In the glass, it shows a slightly hazy yet bright gold colour with a lemon rim. On the nose, the wine has moderate aromas led by cooked apple, ripe pear and citrus flowers. Swirl the glass gently, it may also reveal some notes of roasted nuts and honey. There is no hint of the oak barrel. On the palate, it is dry, with crisp acidity, light body and relatively low alcohol level. The flavour intensity is high, dominated by tastes of grape fruit, citrus flowers and crushed apple, accompanied by a long finish.
The wine is best drunk around 8-10 °C, which is about 5-10 minutes after being taken out from the fridge. Because it is sulphite free, it is not an ideal wine for aging. To prevent the oxidation, my suggestion is to consume this wine as soon as possible. It is a good wine to pair with food such as fried fish pie, green salad, or risotto with asparagus and parmesan cheese. An amazing pairing with wild capers, fava and bread.
References: Oxford Companion to Wine