PaperCity Magazine

November 2019- Houston

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90 HONEST WINE is a phrase I hear often throughout the natural wine community. But the fi rst time I heard it, it was the fi nal line of a note written to me by my friend Brent Mayeaux, accompanied by a bottle of his fi rst wine from Contra Costa, California. He told me to enjoy it with beautiful people that I love, and signed off with his production notes: Nothing added or taken away. The wine was a brilliant and coquettish blend of Malbec and Chardonnay that reminded me of Brent himself and what I imagined his new life in California to be like. I followed his instructions and shared his bottle with a table of friends and food at my home — a perfect encapsulation of both place and time. I use this anecdote when asked to defi ne natural wine because I truly believe that the answer should always be twofold. Natural wine is about sustainable and responsible organic viticulture with little to no human intervention during the vinifi cation process in the cellar. Much of what we consume in terms of conventional wine is artifi cial, and what natural wine vignerons aim to avoid are manipulated fl avors (created by commercial yeasts, enzymes, acids, and sugars) that trick your palate into adulation. In this raw world, you let the wine begin fermenting naturally, with no addition of a non-native yeast or yeast food. These healthy handfuls of yeasts and bacteria are a sign of a healthy vineyard, and grapes teeming with their own microbial universe are key. In the cellar, nothing is added, and nothing is taken away. The second part is that natural wine is about the art of place expression — an encapsulation of terroir and a single vigneron's personal interpretation of it. Every grape varietal, every soil type, every vineyard has its own taste and texture; every winemaker has his or her own brilliance and fl air. What I, as the consumer, crave is transportation to their world. Through their product and my palate, I endeavor to collect as many pieces of another place as possible, and hope that this experience is shared with beautiful people that I love. Lauren Hunter Lee is general manager and wine buyer for The Heights Grocer, a natural wine retailer in the Historic Heights district of Houston. She was a buyer at Vinology Bottle Shop & Tasting Bar in the Museum District, and co-founded Natty or Nice, Houston's fi rst multi-venue Natural Wine Week. All wines from Montrose Cheese & Wine. BY LAUREN HUNTER LEE "NOTHING ADDED, OR TAKEN AWAY"

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