Amidst the discussion among wine writers on just how much “natural wines” should be included in wine lists, I am flipping through a 50-page wine list in one of Siena, Italy’s more renowned osterias. Little natural wine is in sight here.
My late grandfather spent the last decade of his life solving crosswords and drinking wine. It’s been 15 years since he was with us. But I can still vividly recall his passion for both words and a bicchiere of dark ruby red. “Would you like some water?” he used to ask me with a grin. By “water” he meant what he considered the source of life, a glass of locally produced Plavac Mali wine from his native region of Dalmatia. His offering was our little secret. I, being too young to drink, politely refused, but was nonetheless determined to explore my grandfather’s passion at some point in life.
In June 2005 I joined a mixed group—Croatian winemakers, restaurateurs, professors, and journalists—to sail the Adriatic from the Istrian peninsula of Croatia to the Greek locality of Monemvasia, off the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. We boarded two 65-foot yachts that set sail on a Malvasia Mediterranea MMV expedition whose aim was to discover the true roots of the ancient malvasia grape variety.
“Big industry is destroying nature. It is destroying people, too. That’s why the future lies in natural production, such as ours. Once you try this type of wine, the next morning you feel as if you had milk.”