In Food + Drink

Four Natural Wine Picks To Keep On Rotation This Spring

As the days get a little longer and the last cold winds of winter start to ebb away, our thoughts turn to the first swim of the summer and drinking in the sunshine. Time to ditch the heavy coats and along with them, the heavy wines of winter in favour of crisper, lighter style wines that really lend themselves to the season. For wine bar owner Sam Winfield, natural wines are the perfect wines to share out on the river, at the park, at a backyard barbecue and at the beach.

“I think the drinkability of natural wine lets people enjoy it without having the energy sapping circumstance of drinking alcohol. I think natural wines give people energy instead of sapping it,” Winfield says.

“Drinking to context is the most important thing; it is something we are trying to push here, rather than drinking purely varietally. Seasons really don’t matter as much as the weather or occasion does, therefore wine drinking is a very contextual thing.”

Winfield opened Wines of While – a small wine bar at the top end of Northbridge – a few months ago, and has already garnered a legion of fans. Hitting a crossroad in his studies, he left a career in medicine to build the neighbourhood bar of his dreams.

“I was at that point in doctoring where I needed to choose a specialty, which was daunting and would have been a massive commitment; and my heart wasn’t in any particular specialty at that time,” he says.

“My heart was in this type of wine and while I was under 30 years old, I thought I would give it a crack and see if I could let a passion become my job.”

Winfield says these four palette-challenging, zero-intervention wines will be on high rotation in his fridge this spring.

For a day on the boat

Instead of picking up a French champagne or an Australian sparkling, Winfield suggests grabbing a lightly sparkling Italian wine, or something orange to enjoy out on the water.

“Croci Campedello Spontaneamente Frizzante is from Emilia-Romagne which is where Lambrusco, parmesan and prosciutto di parma comes from. This wine is a blend of interesting things. It is a blend of local grape variety ortrugo, and it has a bit of marsanne and sav blanc in it as well. It is both an orange wine and a sparkling wine, so it has 2 weeks of skin contact on it.

“It doesn’t look super orange but the orange taste is definitely there. That skin contact adds some really nice aromatics and grit because it has a bit of tannin in there. It is really refreshing, grippy, crisp, herbal and is just a really fresh wine for spring.

“They say ‘spontaneamente frizzante’, so it has a second ferment in the bottle; and they don’t add extra grape juice or sugar to ferment again like they do in champagne. It is more towards the pet nat side of things, but it is also more serious than that.”

For a picnic in the park

The popularity of pinot gris in Australia has grown quite rapidly, and for good reason. It is a fresh, crisp and food friendly wine, which to Winfield, makes it the perfect drop for spring.

“The Manon White Ash is from an amazing couple who live in the Adelaide hills, Monique and Tim. They are really amazing organic and biodynamic farmers. This pinot gris comes from just near their vegetable garden – it has really beautiful soil there.

“It is a direct press so it is meant to be really fresh and it has a great roundness to it that doesn’t make it too austere. It also has a bit of weight and a bit of texture just from the ripeness of it. It is a beautiful crisp and subtle wine – there is nothing too much to wrap your head around, just a really well grown, well-made wine.”

For a beach sunset session

Rosè in spring may be a little cliché, but the suitability of the drop in the warmer weather is undeniable.

‘The Barraco Rosamare is a beautiful rosè from Marsala in Sicily, made by a guy called Nino Barraco. It is made from 100% nero d’avola grapes, and the colour is one of the first things that strikes you when you pour it out the bottle – it is a really vibrant, neon, electric pink. It is so beautiful to look at, but it is also just so lovely and savoury on the palette while also being really crisp and fresh.

“It has a saline, maritime edge to it as well which is really well placed in Perth especially – just being on the coast and having that salty air. It is definitely a sunset on the beach sort of wine; very boat friendly.

“It has got enough interest to be ok in the cooler weather as well as being really well placed in the warmer weather we have got coming up in Spring. So I would say that this wine is really a no-brainer.”

For a Sunday backyard barbecue

Winfield doesn’t discount drinking a good red in the warmer weather, but recommends finding a lighter, more versatile bottle that doesn’t mind a bit of chill on it.

“We have this amazing litre bottle of Litrozza Rosso from a place called Le Coste which is in the region of Lazio. It is made of Sangiovese, merlot and ciliegiolo. It is still on the red spectrum so you are still getting those dark red flavours, but the acid in sangiovese is usually quite high so it is not going to be too high in alcohol.

“It is light and crisp for a red – It has got red fruit but it is meant to be fresh and drunk by the litre. It is also a good spring bottle as it loves a bit of chill on it – down to about 14 degrees or so. It is very happy in the ice bucket or out of a tumbler as well.”

Published 24 September, 2018