Make My Funk the Wine Funk

National Get Funky Day ― yes, it’s a thing ― evolved from community action in Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Neighbors in hard-hit St. Augustine came together to help and uplift strangers, as well as each other, inspiring a local fitness center and the community at large to celebrate the magic that happens when one cuts convention loose to improve the world, even a little. 

Ten months into a year that has included a global pandemic, economic devastation, civil unrest, wildfires, and a U.S. presidential election stranger than any of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comics, a little funk ― and maybe a lot of wine ―  may be just what folks need. With that in mind, let’s break it down and shake things up with a closer look at the wild, fresh, and funky world of natural wine. 

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Isn’t all wine natural?

In that it’s fermented grape juice, yes. But, in all the romance of swirling glasses, it’s easy to forget that wine is first and foremost an agricultural product. Grape growers may use fungicides, pesticides, or agricultural fertilizers to get the most out of each crop, and winemakers may use lab-created yeasts, colorants, flavorings, or other additives to make wine that looks and tastes a certain way. 

So, what is natural wine?

Let’s start with what it’s not ― that is, a new concept ― despite the term’s hipster niche cachet. Natural wine refers to wine made from grapes that were farmed organically or biodynamically, and vinified with ambient yeasts and little to no intervention from the winemaker. In fact, natural wine is a very old concept, the oldest in winemaking: unmanipulated wine made from unmanipulated grapes. 

As a modern movement, natural winemaking came about in the latter half of the 20th century, as a rejection of widespread hyper-industrialization of agriculture that materialized alongside scientific advances. Think about it: After the widespread hunger of the Great Depression and crop devastation related to the American Dust Bowl and two World Wars, folks were determined to rebuild and stave off starvation by any means necessary. They went ham, honestly. After a few decades, farmers started to reject the use of chemicals. 

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Wait―farmed organically or bio-what?

Okay, so grapes grown organically have been farmed without the use of any artificial fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Biodynamic farming refers to a system of planting, sowing, pruning, and harvesting without the use of any artificial chemicals and in a rhythm determined by the position of the sun, moon, and planets. Biodynamic farming is also an extremely ancient agricultural concept, dating back to prehistory, that received renewed attention in the early 20th century thanks in part to the work of Austrian philosopher, agronomist Rudolf Steiner. 

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So what’s all the funk about?

In a nutshell, in the absence of artificial pesticides, stabilization or manipulation, the flavors in finished wine can be purer, wilder, and well, more funky, with notes like mushroom, salty rocks, wet soil, dirty leather boots, and even the Prospect Park Zoo, appearing on a spectrum. The wine can differ bottle to bottle, and even over time in a glass. Some folks dig it. Some don’t. Ready to explore? Then, break out your groove thangs, and check out these and more bottles in our funky fresh collection of organic and biodynamic wines:

Chateau Cambon Beaujolais 2018

Chateau Cambon was founded by friends and winemaking legends Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Claude Chanudet, & Joseph Chamonard, who together purchased a 13-hectare plot over a mix of granite, limestone and sand-based soils. Organic, biodynamic, unsulphured, unfiltered, and made from hand-harvested Gamay, the wine features flavors of juicy cherries, redcurrants, and raspberries, with hints of dried herbs, rocky soil and balanced acidity. Pair with anything, from burgers to slow-roasted poultry, hummus, cheese and charcuterie.

Just how funky? Prince. Sign o’ the times, indeed.

Craft Wine Co. 24 Days Vermentino 2018

This unfined, unfltered Vermentino, named for the fact that it sees 24 days of skin contact, is as interesting as it is flavorful. A project by winemakers Laura Cusick and Meredith Bell, the wine is produced in Oregon's famed Willamette Valley, on mineral-rich, volcanic soil. Elegantly crushable, the wine features notes of pear, acacia, light citrus, and fresh almond or hazelnut blossoms.

Just how funky? Janelle Monae. You’ll like the way it makes you feel. 

Domaine De L'R SO2 Cabernet Franc 2019

Domaine de L'R was founded on the remains of winemaker Frédéric Sigonneau's family estate in Cravant les Côteaux, in the heart of Chinon. The estate is dedicated to "viticulture in phase with the elements that compose it: soil, water and air," using minimal intervention in the vineyard and the wine cellar. The result is this bright, pure, and refreshing Cabernet Franc fermented in concrete with no added sugar, chemicals and or sulfur. On the nose, intense red fruit with hints of savory herbs that wash across the balance with impressive balance, softness, and a lingering finish. Great with cheese and charcuterie, tapas, apetizers, and light game.

Just how funky? P-Funk. Who wants to get funked up?

Venus la Universal “Dido” Montsant 2019

Husband & wife team Sara Perez & Rene Barbier are both children of famous wine families in Priorato. Their goal with Dido is to craft a more elegant, feminine wine than you usually find in Montsant. Named for the first queen of Carthage, this wine is fermented with wild yeasts and aged 14 months in a combination of used French oak & cement tanks. It has elegant aromas of fresh red fruit, dried herbs & flowers, and a hint of spice. Crisp, with a medium-full body, it is bursting with wild berry fruit & minerality.

Just how funky? Isaac Hayes. Don’t walk on by.

Corvezzo Terre di Marca Prosecco NV

The Corvezzo family winery is located in the heart of Treviso's countryside, which is celebrated as much for its culture as its beauty. Here they produce Prosecco col fondo, the Italian term for this unfiltered, lightly sparkling, bottle-fermented wine. Made exclusively from organic grapes, this bubbly opens with scents of apple and pear blossoms and glides along the palate with a silky texture and just a touch of funk. Balanced acidity and a long finish makes this wine a great partner for seafood, pizza, and salty snacks.

Just how funky? Marvin Gaye. Let’s get it on.