Ruby Wine: A Garden of Eden for Natural Wines
“Natural wines” are hard to come by even in major cities that have a lot of wine shops. Many of San Francisco’s stores have a few organic and biodynamic wines but if you are a fan of or want to try wines that are mostly made by mother nature, Ruby Wine in Potero Hill should be your first stop.
Ruby Wine opened its doors in 2002 but changed quite a bit after Aran Healy bought it in 2011. I traveled through France with him this winter and having spent numerous long car rides chatting about wine, I can safely say Healy is one of the stars of his generation. Without standing on a soapbox, he believes that paying respect to the environment and letting the wine take its natural course without too much interference is the way to go. To this effect, he seeks out wines that are farmed organically, fermented using native yeasts and vinified without additional, or very little added SO2 or enzymes. However, quality comes first. The natural wine movement can be dogmatic and excuses are often made for tragically flawed wines but to his credit, Healy won’t have any of this.
Since the lion’s share of natural wines come from France, Ruby is a little bit of a Francophile’s paradise but as is par for the course, you’ll notice more from the Loire and Ardèche such as Andrea Calek’s 2012 Vin de France, Babiole, ($28) than from Bordeaux. Ruby also has an impressive selection of Italian wines, from cult heroes such as Paolo Bea in Umbria to Massa Vecchia, a lesser-known Tuscan producer that does not add any sulfur to its wines.
The California section may not be as large as some other places in the Bay Area that specialize in local juice but every single wine Healy has picked is a sure thing. If you want a fairly straight forward Chardonnay, you can try the 2011 Knez ($38), but should you want something a bit different, the 2012 Ghostwriter ($30), more of a Jura style wine, might be more up your alley.
Of course customer service is everything and even if Healy is not at the shop, he has good folks working with him who share his passion and are eager to help.
If you are in San Francisco on a Friday night, Ruby Wine has weekly tastings that cost $10, no matter how expensive the wines being poured may be. In the next few weeks he has a selection of German wines from Rudi Wiest Selections, Jose Pastor, a Spanish wine importer and Bertrand Jousset, a winemaker from Montlouis.
For more information go to www.rubywinesf.com.
1419 18th Street (Missouri Street)
Photo by Winelandia.