It seems like everyone has that friend who is a beer fan & you just can’t get them onboard with wine. Naken by Biokult might be the solution. This is the second vintage of this natural wine & it improves upon the first in almost every way.
The previous vintage had just a hint of fizz to it. It made for a quick sparkle when it was opened & then gave a bit of lift on the palate. The 2020 vintage is much frothier. It doesn’t have the continuing fizz of a sparkling wine, but it almost gives the wine a frothy head like a beer.
The first thing I noticed on the nose was a yeasty note. This was followed by citrus, orange peel, & nice floral notes. Fans of high-quality Belgian wheat beer won’t have any trouble seeing how those aromas come together.
On the palate there is much more of the orange peel note joined by honey & honeysuckle notes & strong notes of cardamon, cinnamon & clove.
This is not the wine for people who want a traditional Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but it is absolutely delicious & I want to drink more of it. This has the acid to pair well with food & I think might work great with grilled chicken. It’s from Austria, so pairing it with Schnitzel, the national dish of Austria makes total sense.
The wine is made from 90% Pinot Gris (AKA Pinot Grigio) & 10% Muskateller grapes that are certified organically grown. It is a skin fermented wine, frequently called an orange wine, although the color is somewhere in the ballpark of a wheat beer. The grapes are initially treated like red grapes. They are fermented on skins for several days. This gives color to what would otherwise be a white wine. It also provides a little structure that comes across as mouthfeel rather than tannin. No yeast is added since there is natural yeast on the skin of the grapes. The wine also naturally goes through malolactic fermentation, which converts the green apple acid of ripe grapes to the softer creamy notes of lactic acid. The wine was bottled before 100% completing fermentation. The final fermentation occurred in the bottle. Since the CO2 created during this final fermentation had no where to go, it remained in the bottle & that’s what gives you the fizz when it is poured. It also means that there might be a little sediment in your glass if you get the last pour. That won’t bother your beer drinking friends if they drink bottle conditioned beer. If they only drink Coors, they might be a lost cause anyway. The wine clocks in at 11%, which makes it light enough for enjoyment at an afternoon barbecue without putting you out for the evening.
Naken is a project of three small family-owned vineyards in the Burgenland region of Austria. The wine retails for around $20 for a 750ml bottle. I recently wrote about how natural wines needed to prioritize quality rather than just shouting that they are natural. This is a great example of making something different with a familiar grape that is still delicious.
On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t introduce this wine to your beer drinking friends. They’re just going to drink up your supply!