Natural wine: what's the biggie?
'Natural' is a word that's appearing on increasing numbers of wine lists at restaurants we have a-lorra-lorra love for. Thinking there must be something in its rise, we're committing to a wine fair dedicated to helping you get to know the stuff. Next stop: Michelin-starred Hampton Manor. Cilla not included.
If there's a person this side of the vinosphere that's more into natural wine than Sam Olive, we're yet to meet them. Forget any mumbo jumbo you may previously have heard, for Sam the rise of natural is all about harvests produced in a sensitive way, with nothing added and nothing taken away. Simple as that. Wine Freedom is his wine company of a baby, and is on bottle selection at the upcoming fai
Debates rage in terms of the difference between "natural", "biodynamic" and "organic", but what all three have in common is a focus on the health of the soil and the dynamism of the surroundings in which the grapes grow. No chemicals, no additives. And the why you should care bit? The theory goes that better soil results in better grapes, which results in better harvests, which results in better wine.
But don't go taking Sam's word for it. Try over 40 natural wines in Hampton's good looking atrium — The Courtyard.Tickets include all your samplings, as well as a hot dog from the legendary Big Green Egg BBQs — choose from four, including guac-covered The Mexican, and The Mighty Meat with pulled pork topper. All served with fries and two salads.
THE ONE(S) NOT TO MISS
These aren't the sorts of wines you'll find at other tastings in the city. When we asked Sam to pick out his top drops to try on the day, he came back with a British Columbian orange wine from the darned coolest looking vineyard we've seen, and a Swartland white called Smiley which Sam describes as "one of the craziest and most complex wines I've tasted". Think citrus notes of lemon pith and apricot, with nutty hints of macadamia and pistachio.
THE SECRET ROOM
A little birdie (so, Sam again) has also let us know that points will actually win prizes at this particular wine fair. Solve an interactive wine challenge to get the keys to a final room's worth of tastings. Taken from the "Adventurous" section of the wine list at Peel's, Hampton's handsome restaurant, the ultimate samples have at times been described by Sam as "forward-thinking" and at times "bonkers".
Coming out of the main tasting venue, you'll find your hot dogs, and the fire pits of Hampton's twinkly terrace at your disposal. A canter round the other-worldly grounds is also actively encouraged. And if this is somehow your first time at Hampton, it's a three-minute walk from the station, and here are your travel plans: the 15.14 departs Birmingham New Street from Platform 5, getting you to Hampton-in-Arden 14 minutes later. Done, did, done.
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