Au naturel is synonymous with French culture, so it’s no surprise that the nation’s winemakers have recently embraced the phrase, offering natural wines that have created buzz in the industry. “Most people imagine that wine is made from grapes and nothing else,” says Joshua Adler, wine buyer at Spring, a restaurant and shop just steps from the Louvre. “There are over 200 enzymes and chemicals that can be added to wine without any mention on the label. Natural winemaking implies there has been minimal vintner intervention, including eschewing the addition of chemicals or additives, both in the vineyard and in the cellar.”
But the definition of what makes a natural wine is open to interpretation.
Laura Vidal, sommelier of the acclaimed Restaurant Frenchie, agrees that natural wine is made organically from grapes without the use of added yeasts, enzymes and other chemicals, and bottled with a minimal amount of sulfur dioxide.
Meanwhile, purists like Pierre Jancou, of Vivant, set a higher standard for natural wine and its production.
In a perfect wine world, natural wine would be unfiltered, unfined and unsulfured. This is rarely the case, since most winemakers compromise at some point—where and when they do determines if a wine is natural or not.
“The same way that [there exists] the trend for food made from high-quality ingredients with minimal processing and preservatives, natural wine is a similar trend in wine,” says Adler.
So it’s only natural that people who seek out high-quality food sources are looking for the same in a bottle. These wine bars in the City of Light are known for their natural wine selections.
The much-hyped Frenchie deserves all the buzz with its impeccably prepared food and thoughtful wine list of small organic producers, including Alsace’s Zind-Humbrecht and Loire Valley’s François Chidaine. If you can’t score a reservation at the restaurant, try the affiliated wine bar across the street. Doors open at 7 pm, and seats fill up fast.
American couple Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian opened this new, eye-catching wine bar in 2011 after bidding farewell to their supper club concept. Since then, Verjus has quickly become an expat hot spot with its impressive wine list of organic and small wine producers like Domaine d’Aupilhac’s Les Servières from Languedoc paired with produce-driven modern French cuisine.
43 rue des Petites Ecuries
A natural wine advocate, Pierre Jancou’s little eatery is a noteworthy spot to sip small-production wines paired with Franco-Italian inspired dishes. Jancou’s elegant blend of thoughtful cooking and natural wine makes it well worth the trip and potential squeeze.