Sunday 30 October 2016

A Natural Revolution

A spontaneous get-together with some wine buddies saw us gathering at what must be the most audacious wine bar to open in recent years. Christened Wine RVLT, this bar was the result of one and a half years  planning by Ian Lim and Alvin Gho, both veterans with more than a decade in the food and beverage industry. Wine RVLT specialises in natural wines and bills itself as a “Real Bottle Bar” promising selections that are, in Ian and Alvin’s words, “living, raw, honest and natural”. It’s truly a labour of love, as both of them maintain day jobs and tend to the bar in the evenings.

The phrase “natural wine” often has me cocking an eyebrow. By definition (if such a loose category can even be defined), natural wines are those that are often grown organically or biodynamically, with minimum intervention in the vineyard and winery. Most winemakers of this category will forgo the use of sulphur dioxide, pesticides and herbicides while encouraging fermentation using indigenous yeasts. For several thousand years conventional winemakers have teased and manipulated the grape to produce a wine that reflects its ultimate potential, and now natural winemakers are telling us to go back to letting the grape do its own thing. It’s no wonder that RVLT stands for Revolution.

Is this a logical result of the increasing homogenisation in wine? As Ian describes it, “I can put 15 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs together and they will all taste the same.” Natural wines however, with their earthy, sometimes herbal flavours and murky colour, are the total opposite and you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to get. That double-edged sword has caused natural wines to be viewed sceptically, with Newsweek stating that “It’s worth knowing which restaurants offer only natural wine, if only to avoid them.” In truth, it can be difficult to distinguish between a rotten wine and one that is intentionally made to show more funky flavours, but devotees of the natural wine movement love the unpredictability that comes with the territory.

Ian also points out that notable domaines such as Prieuré Roch and Romanée-Conti have been producing natural wine for years, even if they do not ascribe to that term. During our session, we tried a wine from Domaine Mosse Anjou Blanc 2012, served from magnum, which had a beautiful honeyed note that continually evolved in the glass. This twisting, living wine put paid to notions that natural wines are incapable of extended aging, and it showed no signs of slowing down. Similarly vibrant was a Bioweingut Diwald Zweigelt 2013 from Wagram, Austria, a light and fruity number showing herbal-accented red cherries. Less complex, but equally captivating, was a wine from Radikon based in the Friuli region. Made from the Ribolla Gialla grape with extended skin contact, this is a white wine made using red winemaking methods, giving the wine an orange sheen and a slight tannic edge.

It is a testament to the palate of these two Young Turks that the wine list is as varied as it is, yet their thoughful curation has succeeded in sifting out gems from the treacherous mines of the natural wine world. For those looking for something off the well-trodden path, the address is below. They also have a tasty selection of prime cuts thanks to the restaurant next door.

111 Killiney Road
Opening hours: 12pm – 12am

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