Natural Wines For Spring With L’Altre Vi

 In Inspiration

L’altre Vi, run by Rachel Everett and son Rubén, is a specialist importer of organic, biodynamic and natural wines from Catalonia in north-east Spain. Their eclectic collection ranges from fine wines to the slightly more unusual. They work directly with small family farms who grow their own grapes and are committed to sustainability and the restoration of biodiversity. L’altre Vi believe that minimum intervention techniques in wine-making result in bright and pure wines which are simply delicious! Today on the blog, Rachel shares her top recommendations for wines to enjoy at home this spring. >>

Who’s seen their first swallow? They’re back in Oxford, spring is most definitely here. With all of us slowed down in the last couple of weeks, I hope it’s been possible to enjoy wild Oxfordshire bouncing back to life after a very grey winter. With less traffic on the roads people have been commenting on the amount of birdsong they can hear and some, out for walks they never
normally take, are noticing how beautiful simple spring flowers like Lesser Celandine and Dandelions really are.

L'Altre Vi Oxford

Of course birds always sing in the spring and the dandelions always cheer up roadside verges. In the same way winemakers have always made “natural” wines even if most of us were unaware there was such a thing. Natural wines are what you might imagine wine to be; just fermented grape juice. Although the wines we drink in this country once started life as grapes most have been tweaked and coerced into a consistent but not very exciting product. Apart from not tasting particularly special, without food labelling laws it’s hard to know what has been added/taken away or otherwise manipulated in the average bottle.

L'Altre Vi Oxford

Just as Blackbird song has always been glorious, so natural wines have always been available if you knew where to find them. In fact many of the most prized wines in the world are natural; its just never mentioned as it goes without saying that good wine – really good wine – is a product of the skill of the winemaker and not the result of a collection of packets and high tech
gadgets. That goes for the grapes too – you can’t make splendid wine without a painstaking year of care for high quality organic grapes.

L'altre Vi Oxford
That good wines start in the vineyard. Talking pruning with Eudald and Ester at Eudald Massana Noya, each vine is an individual.

Whilst some effort is currently being made in France to regulate what constitutes “natural wine” there’s no international consensus beyond the need to intervene as little as possible in the wine-making process. There are two main styles. Some winemakers opt for gnarly, wild products, sometimes with unexpected ciderish flavours or features – like leaving the lees in the bottle – which would otherwise be considered faults. They let the grapes spontaneously ferment from the naturally occuring yeasts on the skins and are led by the developing wine itself.

Others make elegant traditional wines, just as fine wines have been made for centuries. They may start by culturing ambient yeasts in the vineyard (like making a sourdough starter) and blend, age on the lees, cask or bottle age and allow sediment to settle before bottling to achieve a refined product without the addition of any additives, including stabilising sulphites.

Both styles give bright, pure flavours with a depth and intensity which surprises people who have only tried supermarket offerings and thought that was “wine.”

L'altre Vi Oxford
Eva from Comalats, we’re tasting the 2019 cabernet sauvignon from the tank.

So – what to choose for this time of year?
Here are our five natural wines for Spring


Comalats Isarda 2018 14.5% D.O. Costers de Segre. £16
100% Cabernet sauvignon
Cab sav but possibly not as you know it. Intense young wine from high altitude low yielding old vine grapes. The “wild one” which Eva has left without added suphites.


Vinyes Singulars Amb el cor a la mà 2018 12.4% £21.50
100% Sumoll
“Sincerity;” traditional Catalan variety fermented in locally sourced chestnut wood barrels. Fruity and light, a gnarly one for fans of Ignasi Segui’s creations.


Tuets Garnatxa blanca 2016 13.5% £16.80
100% white grenache
Full-bodied and luscious with ripe pineapple and grapefruit. Over time Albert’s take on a classic Catalan variety has rounded out beautifully. Perfect for a vegetarian feast.


L’Apical Methòdic 2018 10.5% D.O. Penedès £18
100% Xarel·lo vermell
A fine wine by the lads from L’Apical. Finished in amphorae. A rare grape and a special wine; delicate, structured and balanced.


L’Apical Ancestral 2018 12% £18
100% Macabeu
Limited edition ancestral or pet nat sparkler. Dry and fresh with a silky smooth mousse, apples, quince and honey. A fine wine style.

Finally if you are dining alone, fear not! All these wines will be good for 3-4 days once opened and will continue to develop their flavours. The ancestral will keep its sparkle for a day or so. So no need to worry about not being able to finish the bottle.

salut i vi! (Good health and good wine!)

L'altre Vi Oxford
Marti from L’Apical with developing ancestral wines from the 2019 vintage.

You can find L’Altre Vi at the East Oxford Farmers Market every Saturday, and they also offer free home delivery in Oxford. Check out the L’Altre Vi online shop to discover their curated selection of natural wines.

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