With a winemaking history spanning thousands of years, Georgian wine is still made in small batches with Old World techniques: Both red and white grapes are stomped by foot and fermented with their skins in terracotta pots or amphora called “qvevri,” then buried in the ground or placed in a cellar. While Georgian varieties are still somewhat difficult to find, they are also part of the natural wine trend in the United States, where almost nothing is added or taken away during the winemaking process, and which happily includes wine from producers all over the world.
“In a broad sense, natural wine is usually regarded as a wine that has had no chemical inputs in either the vineyard or the winery and is made with as little intervention as possible,” says Troy Smith, beverage manager at Montage Laguna Beach.
Jesse Rodriguez, director of wine at Montage Palmetto Bluff, says the move toward natural wine is part of a larger trend of more conscientious American consumers interested in where their beverages come from. “People are finding more of a pure expression and sole integrity of each varietal with natural wines,” Rodriguez explains. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why so many are going natural.
Here are some of the best natural wines available at Montage properties.
One natural wine available at Montage Beverly Hill’s Georgie and The Garden Bar is the 2008 Araujo Estate’s Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. “Araujo Estate cabernet[s] are renowned for their silky texture and exceptional finesse, with flavors of cassis, black cherry, cedar, chocolate and slate, and a lingering mineral finish,” says Jesus Evangelista, beverage manager at Montage Beverly Hills.
The 2012 Querciabella Batar of Tuscany, Italy, is also available at Georgie and The Garden Bar at Montage Beverly Hills. “Querciabella has been honing its approach to natural, organic and biodynamic viticulture for over a decade,” Evangelista says. Evangelista describes Querciabella Batar as “a blend of chardonnay and pinot blanc. There is a richness and a tactile quality about this wine, a tangible feel of quality much like the suppleness of great leather.”
Troy Smith, beverage manager at Montage Laguna Beach, recommends trying the 1997 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano D’abruzzo from Abruzzo, Italy, on the wine list at Studio. “Now run by the fifth generation of the Pepe family and known for being highly artisanal, this estate exemplifies the tenets of natural winemaking,” Smith says. “The reds are full of intense flavors of black cherries, herbs and licorice.”
The 2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon from Beaujolais, France, is available at both Jessamine and Octagon Bar & Gathering Place at Montage Palmetto Bluff and is described by Jesse Rodriguez, the resort’s director of wine, as being “fruit forward with cherry, currant [and] cranberries while showcasing the classical notes of Gamay, pear drop, cotton candy and granite earth.”
By Tiffanie Wen