Weird and Wonderful Natural Wines

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of…natural 3
NATURAL WINES! 

Ziryab has entered the fabulous new realm of wines that are made in a more organic, healthy and respectful way, and we have a bunch of these new wines on our menu for you to try at totally affordable prices.

First off, “what is a natural wine”, you may ask? 

It’s not easy to find one common description for natural wines. This may be in part also because it is a field that is still developing, at least as far as the commercial wine sector is concerned. But in fact, natural wines have been produced for thousands of years, and are really not a new thing.

vins naturelsIn fact France is the leading naturalist worldwide, with many producers only making their wines in a natural style. Although the term is becoming increasingly talked about, these producers refuse to “label” and market their wines as natural wines, claiming this should be the only form of wine-making, and is the way they have always made wines.

A natural wine is a wine produced in a way that is closest to nature as possible, with the least form of intervention manageable. The idea is to preserve, within that bottle of wine, the natural biodiversity where the actual plant (the vine) has grown, without adding on extra methods of wine-making (e.g. carbonic maceration, malo-lactic fermentation, fermentation on lees, etc) or types of ageing (e.g. in oak barrels) that – although highly popular and common in modern wine-making, can alter the taste of a wine and take that wine very far away from the actual terroir: the soil and climate of the original grape.

This means that natural wines generally are not aged, but rather are made to be drunk young and fresh, and also they are unlikely to survive for a long time in your wine cellar in case you were remotely thinking of hoarding them…

Another factor very common to modern wines is the use of certain effects carried out towards the end of the wine-making process, to ensure a longer shelf-life and that – once opened – the wine is still relatively tasty to drink for some days before becoming totally oxidised. These are:

  1. Stabilisation of a wine – this often involves adding sulphur dioxide (SO2) to allow wines to be preserved longer without oxidising
  2. Filtration of a wine – this gets rid of any bits and bobs left over after the fermentation of the wine – bits of grape skins or stems, bits of yeast left over from the fermentation process…

These common processes make for a “clean” and easy drinking wine, and are used in most of the wines we find stocked on supermarket shelves. These wines maybe reflect something of the grape variety and the personal taste of the wine-maker, but they often lack a strong personality. In contrast, natural wines do not carry out these processes and, as a consequence, are often quite cloudy in their appearance and have strange countryside rustic aromas (often due to the presence of natural yeasts that would otherwise be filtered out before the wine is bottled). This type of wine may seem bizarre to us who have drunk commercial wines all our lives. But natural wines are true to themselves and to the land they come from and, when you get used to them, are full of charm, character and seduction…

roman wines The best natural wines are made with no (or very little) SO2, no filtration or stabilisation, and use indigenous yeasts (from the grape’s own skin, rather than yeast that has been manufactured in a laboratory). In this way, they transport you to the region in which the grapes were grown. They bring you a wine that is truer and more honest in its identity, a healthier wine more organic in its makeup, and a wine that brings us back to the essence of wine-making, just the way the Romans did it.

The wines we now have on our menu @ Ziryab are:

vinos naturalesPetite Fleure 2015 (from Alsace, the grape is Muscat; fresh, flora & fabulous!)
Occhipinti 2015 (red wine from Sicily, indigenous grape “Frappato” which is often used to make their sweet wine Marsala; charming and intensely Meditteranean!)
Les Planetes Nin 2016 (from Catalonia, the grape is Garnatxa fermented in clay “anforas”; intriguing and magnificent!)
Vino Costa 2014 (a rosé from Granada in Andalusia, the grape is Listan negro; a brilliant discovery!)

If you are interested in learning more, there are different annual natural wine festivals you can attend, every February, to try different wines:

“La Dive Bouteille” in the Loire Valley in France (http://www.dive-bouteille.fr)
“Vins Nus” in Barcelona (https://www.facebook.com/barcelonavinsnaturals/) 
“Vella Terra” in Barcelona (http://vellaterra.com)

A taste of Palestine in Barcelona…

For those intrigued by the Middle East conflict but have never been there, Ziryab offers a perfect way to taste a bit of Palestine without going so far. Taybeh is a beer brewed by a family in the west bank, in the beautiful village of Taybeh. It’s a village in the countryside, surrounded by rolling hills where the sun shines most days of the year – not too different from Barcelona.

The difficulties are paramount – the political situation in the region prevents goods from easily being exported from the territories, as they have to undergo rigorous checks and face many delays, to bring products through checkpoints and through Israel to be brought to the rest of the world. But this pioneering family persevered and learned how to make a fantastic brew, despite the obstacles they faced. The Khoury family decided – after the Oslo accords of the 90s, when peace seemed near yet unfortunately remained so far – to set up the first microbrewery in the Middle East and show the world what Palestine could produce. Learning methods from traditional German beer-brewing, they used the German “purity law” to ensure no preservatives or additives would be added to the beer, maintaining the pure essence of a good brew and bringing in fantastic tastes.

Despite the difficulties, Ziryab brings in Taybeh via its distributor based in Copenhagen, and offers several different flavours on the menu: Taybeh Golden, White beer, Amber and Dark. They are all fantastic, flavoursome, and super healthy 🙂 They pair great with the tastes we have in our fusion tapas or a great shisha at our Shisha Lounge.

Come and taste the flavour of Taybeh, of the rolling hills of Palestine, and support Palestinian producers! The village of Taybeh also has an Oktoberfest every year in October, and if you manage to make it over there it’s a wonderful occasion to enjoy Taybeh straight from the brewer, as well as try some of the gastronomical delights of the region – Palestinians make some of the best food of the Middle East!

http://taybehbeer.com

 

Warmth at Ziryab: The Fifth String of Autumn

Autumn has fallen hard, fervent, magnanimous and grey over the city of Barcelona. The warm summer wind has lost it’s strength, falling amongst the cobblestones in cool puddles of rain. The dogs bark differently this time of year.
The warm light of the restaurant becomes a part of this autumn landscape. A golden light like warmest bread. The red of the wine deepens with passion as it fills the glass. The very wood in the walls competes with the timeless history of the room itself.

Suddenly a bang. The light from the “correfocs” washes over the streets. “Are those fireworks?” The people run outside to see. The stairwell is deserted, and from the empty loft of the restaurant, life feels like a celebration. Do you really think it matters that no one else seems to be listening?

The rockets fade away, leaving behind a trail of smoke that slowly lifts as time begins again, revealing smiling faces. It’s time to eat. Some have a bite, others have more than a bite. Everything is fresh, the aromas sit nicely alongside the candles. Take a look inside. Take your time. Everyone seems content. A cold wind rattles against the door, and no one notices. Silence.

What happened here one hundred years ago? This place would make a fabulous apartment. Why do I like it here so much?

The charm. There’s no other way to explain it. Maybe that’s why they call it that in the first place, because a magical charm has been placed upon us, and all those who lived inside these walls, and wandered through the autumn nights, and heard the silent lute of Ziryab.

Come and see.

(poem based on the musician Ziryab, who legend has it – among other things – invented the 5th string of the lute)