Wine

Natural Wines

11 Natural wines that taste a good as they look

In the natural wine community, the artwork on the label is often as expressive and innovative as what’s inside. In other words, choosing wine based off the label isn't always a bad idea. Here, Bon Appétit's wine editor Marissa Ross and visuals editor Emily Eisen break down the inner and outer beauty of six exciting natural wines.

Domaine de l’Octavin, “Betty Bulles”

The taste: This naturally fermented sparkling Gamay has a light and airy bouquet, but each sip packs a punch of savory cherries and ripe strawberries, with notes of wet gravel and a grenadine finish. It’s sweet enough to satisfy the kid inside us all, while being an interesting and intensely flavorful bubbly any wine-drinking adult can appreciate.—Ross

The look: When you make wines as complex and intensely flavorful as Jura producer Alice Bouvot, you earn the right to put whatever you want on your label, like this hybrid gnome-meets-Betty Boop. Almost all of her wines have cheeky cartoon gnomes on them, doing everything from eating chocolate to sun tanning.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

La Villana Vino Rosso

The taste: This Italian-made blend of Grechetto, Montepulciano, Cilegiolo, and Canaiolois smells like a seaside breeze carrying wafts from a cranberry lemonade stand. It tastes likes a Vespa joy ride down Cypress-lined dirt roads that catapults you into brambles of raspberry and blackcurrant, with stray watermelons, and ripe, juicy red plums.—Ross

The look: “Putting sheep on the label was inevitable,” La Villana’s Joy Kull says. “They’re a vital part of our farm’s ecosystem.” So she enlisted children’s book illustrator Jamison Odone, a Maurice Sendak protégé, to sketch a label depicting sheep taking part in the winemaking process.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Pinard et Filles “Chardonneret”

The taste: This unfiltered Chardonnay blend looks like sunshine piercing through a dissipating Pacific marine layer and smells like Granny Smiths doused in fresh squeezed lemon and honeysuckle with a club soda float. As soon as it hits your lips, an energetic Meyer Lemon acidity drops like a beat that pulsates through each sip, as notes of green apples and Asian pears reverberate.—Ross

The look: The Quebecois accent can sound a little rough to some (read: the French), hence the name of this wine: Chardonneret—the phonetic spelling of the Quebecois pronunciation. A quaint bird, overlaid with the jaws of an alligator, visually represents this play on words. Like all Pinard labels, it is drawn by Marc Seguin.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Julian Courtois “Ancestral”

The taste: This Gamay blend marries bright cranberry flavors with the weight of red currants and smoky umami notes. It still has the fresh flavors of a bright, gluggy Gamay—just with a little more substance.—Ross

The look: The front label of Julien Courtois’ wines bears only a line drawing, always created by his wife and partner, Heidi Kuka. (Don’t worry, there's info about what's inside on the back.)—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Ruth Lewandowski “Feints”

The taste: This unusual blend of California-grown Italian grapes walks the line between light red and dark rosé. It starts out with juicy cherries and pomegranates and finishes dry, with a gravelly minerality that begs for another sip.—Ross

The look: Winemaker Evan Lewandowski and artist Gheybin Comish drank this wine together, while he explained the story behind it and she sketched. “When the bottle was gone, we hugged and Gheybin promised me she’d have something to look at in a week or so,” Lewandowski says. “The first thing she sent me is what went on the bottle. She 100 percent got it.”—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

MicroBio “Nieva York”

The taste: Microbio’s “Nieva York” is like drinking a blend of grilled pineapple, ocean water, and papaya from a hollowed green melon with a fennel straw. Get yourself a bottle and a Hawaiian shirt, and boom, it’s a vacation in your living room.—Ross

The look: Spanish producer Ismael Gozalo was inspired to create a Verdeja pet-nat while visiting his importer in New York City, so he merged the name of his hometown—Nieva, Spain—with Nueva York and conceived a label to match. Yes, that’s a Spanish aqueduct on top of the Manhattan Bridge. Why not?—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Autour de l’Anne “Wonder Womanne”

The taste: Drinking this pale coral rosé Pet-Nat is like running around the backyard as line-dried sheets sway in a citrusy, summer wind—sudsy, unfussy, and good clean fun. —Ross

The look: Each of Anne Paillet’s wines, including this Marvel-inspired label, is a wordplay on her name. Who else can represent this Wonder Womanne besides Wonder Woman herself?—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Robinot, L’Ange Vin "Bistrologie"

The taste: Bistrologie looks like a cloudy yellow sapphire and smells like a reheated lemon and apple pie—it’s oxidation done right. This Chenin Blanc tastes of baked apples and flinty ocean foam with a whisper of vanilla, accompanied by a breezy acidity and a long, warm orange rind finish.—Ross

The look: One of the grandfathers of natural wine, Jean-Pierre Robinot creates his own intriguing labels to match his equally intriguing wines. Some labels (like this one) show manipulated long exposure shots of cars driving at night, which he takes by lying on the side of the road. Other labels are paintings, which often appear on white backgrounds in a similar style to his photographs.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Vinca Minor, Carignan

The taste: Vinca Minor’s Carignan has the hue of a raspberry jam, but smells like snacking on ripe blueberries and Crasins outside a pine forest with violets in the wind. It’s fruity, earthy, and herbal, with flavors of rich cranberry, plum, black currant, sprigs of thyme, and touches of anise.—Ross

The look: Jason Charles, the owner and winemaker at Vinca Minor, views the wine label as a surrogate for a logo. For this bottle, he tapped Minneapolis-based artist Michael Cina to create the label and bottle design. “For me, the artwork is front and center and the logo and wine info is secondary,” says Charles. “Image itself translates into how I perceive the wine’s taste and feel.”—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Sistema Vinari "Château Paquita"

The taste: The electric crimson–hued “Château Paquita” smells like a spring shower on a country road, with raspberries, crisp green leaves pitter-pattering under the rain, soft dirt sinking beneath your shoes, and a farm in the distance. It tastes like youthful, crunchy cranberries and fennel bulbs dusted in black pepper.—Ross

The look: Winemaker Eloi Perello gives artists full reign to create new labels for each vintage of Chateau Paquita. In 2015, he enlisted the help of street artist Pere Banek to show the “metamorphosis” process of fermentation, resulting in this illustration of how the grape turns into wine.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Martha Stoumen "Teal Drops Rosé"

The taste: It’s impossible to feel anything close to blue while drinking Martha Stoumen’s bright, warm, and welcoming “Teal Drops” Rosé. It smells like tart cherries applying tanning oil at the pool, and tastes like white-capped strawberries cannonballing into the deep end with splashes of vanilla. This rosé is juicy but dry, with well-integrated oak,: It's equally perfect for dinner parties and day drinking.—Ross

The look: Most of the labels for Martha’s “serious wines” are designed by California artist Carolynn Haydu, who creates paper cut outs based on abstract botanical prints. Her long artistic process hints that this is a wine to slowly savor.—Eisen

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh