oenopole: And cellar work?
Cassady: I believe that the use of filtration and cultured yeasts are the hardest aspects of winemaking to justify. In some vintages the natural yeast might not be strong enough to complete fermentations but to use selected yeasts every year and then talk “terroir” seems odd. In terms of filtration, I find it's a shortcut that can often be resolved by letting settle naturally over time.
oenopole: Do we need to make the distinction between natural and conventional wine?
Cassady: It is important to point out how insufficient wine labeling regulations are. It’s absurd that wine is a food product that doesn’t list its ingredients.
Another issue is the “recipe approach” to winemaking. Winemakers who put forward an idea of terroir or a sense of place yet follow a recipe to make their wines are contradicting themselves. They are essentially taking away or altering the influences terroirs has on wine. For example, cultured yeasts take away from the natural aromatic profile that the vineyard would have imparted on the wine.
oenopole: What about the notion of defects/flaws?
Cassady: I'm the first to admit that natural wines often have flaws, but I think we need to redefine what is truly a flaw and maybe add some new ones to the term. For example, a wine being too clean or too filtered I consider flawed. Wines that contain additives are flawed. Wines overly marked by oak are equally problematic to me. On the other hand, I find that the mainstream wine establishment is quick to use any levels of brett, volatile acidity and reduction as flaws instead of looking at them as a part of the wine that adds complexity.
oenopole: Why are natural wines so popular all of a sudden?
Cassady: More natural wines are available. Sommeliers and importers are better educated, better versed on what is available all over the world, and are bringing them in. Consumers are certainly more interested than ever before in trying them.
oenopole: What are a few examples of natural wines that you’ve had made you believe that they are truly "different" from conventional wines?
Cassady: Vodopevic's Vitovska, Overnoy's wines, Schueller's Pinot Noirs, Julien Labet’s whites, Tom Lubbe’s work at Matasssa, Terpin and Radikon's examples of Pinot Grigio, Cossard's Chardonnays, the rosés of l'Anglore, Riffault ‘s Sancerre…
oenopole: The Del Prete wine we had. Thoughts on it?
Cassady: A little high on alcohol, but tasty. The texture of the wine balanced it out. I would love to have it with some grilled meat and vegetables!