“Craft” is an overused term. It’s been popping up everywhere for the last 2 or 3 years, and half the time it’s really just being used as a buzzword. A lot of people won’t do their research: if somebody uses craft to describe a product, they assume it is. But it’s not like there’s a law for the word, hence its rapid spread…
However, that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be used. I’m in favour of the word’s usage but it’s just important that everyone remember what it actually means.
- The Oxford Dictionary defines craft as “an activity involving skill in making things by hand.”
- When referring to drinks producers, it states “denoting or relating to food or drink made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by an individual or a small company.”
So, the two combined, my perception of craft is a product that is made independently, by a small company, with traditional or innovative thought with as little mechanical intervention as possible.
Small, indie producers are appearing more and more, and hoorah for that. It’s great to know that you’re consuming something that is the direct product of nurture and care. For these companies, their product is their pride and joy.
This isn’t to say that big companies don’t care; of course they do, however they have the funds behind them to take part in huge experiments and have ultra high-tech wineries, which the little indie producers don’t. You can’t put the two in the same category.
When a little independent company really gets something right, it’s so impressive.
Here’s a perfect example:
Birds & Bats / Wines of Momentary Destination
The company makes Wines of Momentary Destination. It is a pop-up winemaking collective, making one wine, in one place for one year only. Everything from the grape to final production is managed by their team.
So far, WMD have made three wines: FUSE 2012 (from I.G.P. Côtes Catalanes in France), THE SPECTRE 2013 (from Krov + Kinheim, Mosel, Germany) and THE WILL TO LIVE 2014 (from Istria, Croatia).
You can get The Will to Live 2014 from various little independents around London: in Market Row Wines in the Brixton Market, Hop, Burns + Black in Dulwich, Jones of Brockley and Bean & Hop in Earlsfield. You can drink it by the glass at The Manor in Clapham.
I haven’t had the chance to try the WMD wines yet, but I did try the wine that is a collaboration between Birds & Bats & Ariousios. It’s a wine that’s bought, blended and labelled under Birds & Bats Wine Productions, but made by Ariousios.
Three Years Down – 2011
If this isn’t craft, then I don’t know what is. And it’s seriously good.
Available in Philglas & Swiggott.
It is a blend of three puncheon barrels from the Ariousios winery, IGP Chios, Chios Island, Greece.
It is made from the island’s own indigenous red grape varieties Chiotiko Krassero and Ayanittis (don’t worry I had never heard of them either) that have been around since the days of Homer (!!!)
The Ariousios winery is a modern winery that is determined to restore the world renowned wine trade the island once had in ancient times.
Bottles produced: Only a tiny 1140 standard | 476 Magnums
(Alcohol: 13.46% | Residual sugar: 0.56 g/L | Total acidity: 5.25 g/L)
About the viticulture (vineyard):
Hand harvested on the 25th and 30th of September from organically treated vineyard sites in Aglosia and Ambelitis (NW Chios). Average vine age of 10 years.
About the winemaking:
Crushed and destemmed followed by a cold maceration. The wine was fermented with pure culture Saccharomyces cerevisae and pumped over twice daily. At dryness the wine was drained (not pressed) into French oak barrels. The wine was left to mature in wood for three years down in the cellar.