Natural Wine Movement Finds a Lively Hub in Copenhagen


Natural wines, with their additive-free vinification and minimal sulfur use, seem tailor-made for a vibrant food scene that shuns pesticides and additives. There is now an entire community of sommeliers, importers and enthusiasts seeking small producers from a wide variety of regions.

“People from Paris come here to drink, which is weird,” said Michael Mortensen, who edits a wine magazine called Vang and is a sommelier at Kadeau on the tiny Baltic island of Bornholm, east of Copenhagen, as a bottle of Brut Nature Champagne from French winemaker Comte Hugues de la Bourdonnaye was uncorked. He came to the shop on his day off to chat with Mr. Danielsen, even bringing a bottle of his own to open.

Rødder & Vin, a bottle shop, doesn’t have a license to sell glasses of wine, though complimentary tastings usually take place there, attracting an array of influential people from the culinary world. On this day, visitors gathered at a round table tasting from several bottles, mostly French.

Photo

Manfreds, a laidback wine bar in Norrebro, a bohemian quarter of Copenhagen.

Credit
Nana Hagel for The New York Times

“I don’t like them because they are natural, but most of the wines I do like are natural,” said Mr. Danielsen as he emerged from the back with a half kilo of chicken liver mousse that he just happened to have.

“I like the balance between sweetness and bitterness, something you get from natural fermentations,” he said.

What I found over the next few days was that it is as easy, if not easier, to find natural wine in Copenhagen than conventional wines. Every top restaurant in town, from three-Michelin-star Geranium to Noma’s spinoff 108 to graffiti-covered Amass, had wine lists and pairings that were almost entirely natural. Plus, nearly every neighborhood has a great natural wine bar.

The highest concentration of natural wine is in Norrebro, the bohemian quarter where Noma alum Christian Puglisi opened the laid-back wine bar Manfreds in 2011, across from his Michelin-starred restaurant Relae.

It helped kick off the natural wine movement and remains popular with a long list of hard-to-find wines from cult vintners.

A few doors down is Terroiristen, a basement bar with high-top tables and maps of Italian wine regions on the wall. Most of the wines hailed from emerging regions of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. A few blocks away is Gaarden & Gaden, a neighborhood pub with natural wines from top names like Radikon and Olivier Cousin.

Den Vandrette, where the Nyhavn waterfront meets the footbridge to Christianshavn neighborhood, is partly owned by Sune Rosforth, the importer whose Rosforth & Rosforth canal-side wine shop has been integral to introducing Copenhagen to natural wine since opening in 1994.

“He’s the closest thing you will get to a rock star importer, if such a thing exists,” Mr. Danielsen told me. Mr. Rosforth launched Den Vandrette in 2013 in the basement of a historic building to showcase the mostly French and Italian wines.

On a quiet corner near Christiansborg Palace, Ved Stranden 10, feels like your Danish friend’s living room with mismatched midcentury furniture and stacks of books about Burgundy. There’s no formal wine list, though there are constant rotations of 10 to 15 wines by the glass.

On a summer afternoon, I told the waiter that I was in the mood for something to go with the warm weather and she returned with two bottles, a French L’Anglore Sels d’argent and another from Hungarian producer Meinklang made from the obscure varietal Juhfark, of which only about 10 gallons were produced. She gave me a pour of each.

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