While doing our tour in the cellar at Raventós i Blanc an old man explained the vinegar smell: “We’re doing a test of making vinegar. In the future we may sell it.” Lionel Lopez added: “It’s a good way to stop wine waste.” Also the guys from Finca Parera made vinegar to prevent wine waste. “But till now only for personal use,” tells Guaski, “we have poured the wine in barrels in 2001 and haven't touched it since. That’s why you only need a few drops on your salad.”
“The establishment is losing power”
Tough talk: conventional vs natural
The divide between conventional and natural winemakers gets bigger and bigger. “The establishment is losing power,” says Pepe Raventos, CEO of Raventós i Blanc. What do you mean with the establishment? “Everything, the conventional winemakers, the conventional journalists, reviewers, importers, conventional restaurants, everything.”
“That is a very tough thing to say,” Onno Kleyn responds on Pepe Raventós' quote. Kleyn is wine critic of the Volkskrant, a big newspaper in the Netherlands, who mainly reviews conventional wine. Kleyn isn’t afraid of losing power: “I am in the position that I can tell what my opinion is. And if I would be afraid of losing power, I would do something else and change my focus area to natural wine.” For him natural wine tastes unpleasant: “For me it feels like I am drinking Rivella or buttermilk because of the spontaneous fermentation. It dominates the characteristic taste of grapes."
Though Kleyn thinks he could get used to the taste of natural wine: “Except for sweetness, which is innate, one needs to get used to every taste. I simply didn’t do that with the taste of natural wine. I think it’s unfortunate because I really love the tastes I already know.” According to Kleyn there is more diversity in the smells of conventional wine then in natural wine.
“People will consider me oldschool,” he continues, “but natural wine will always be a small percentage of the total. Though organic and natural wine is very important.” Why? “Because it makes the conventional winemakers understand they have to think about sulphites and working in the vineyard, about a different approach. The natural winemakers are some sort of preachers. That’s important, but I don’t have to like their results.”
Information is key
Johan Dal, leader of Slow Food Copenhagen, an organization to prevent the disappearance of local food and traditions, is critical about how wine is consumed: “If people were more concerned or more provided with information about for example sustainability in the growth of wine, I think many of them would not drink wine the way they do.” He wonders if it should be this normal and easy to just drink wine every day, without knowing how it’s produced.
"And remember: Finca Parera is your new home in Catalonia," says Ruben when we leave his vineyard.