Sitting in Bar Brutal in Barcelona, the vibe is everything you look for when you’re at a natural wine bar. Tons of open bottles, everyone talking to their neighbor about what producer they came here to try, specifically the Brutal ones. So what is a Brutal wine, you ask? Excellent question! There's not a lot out there on the topic, so I decided to write a quick overview for all of you interested in getting into natural wine yourselves and aren't sure what Brutal means on a list!
Recommended Reading: What Is Natural Wine?
Brutal Wine's History:
All of this started with a conversation three winemakers had several years ago. Laureano Serras, Joan Ramon Escoda, and Anthony Tortul got together at Tortul’s winery and kept using their Catalan dialect and slang calling it “Brutal", similarly to if we called a wine, dope, dank or sick in English. Anthony, who is French, thought they were saying the wine was garbage when it actually meant it was very good in Catalan. In the confusion he went upstairs and made a label called it “Brutal” and brought it down to them.
What it looks like:
The label is typically black with yellow and red accents and says “Brutal!!!”. It also typically has a Grim Reaper reaping SO2 on the label, signifying the general thought around the wine.
What does Brutal mean?
Brutal is very much part of the raw wine movement. The only requirements are that it’s zero/zero, meaning nothing added and nothing taken out. There shouldn’t be any sulfites in it (thus the grim reaper and the SO2) and the vintner shouldn’t be intervening in the wine. It also signifies the wine that is an experiment. It’s gotten a reputation for being some of the most bizarre wines out there, but it is actually just a wine that the winemaker experimented with. It doesn’t have to be the most strange one that they've ever made. The Brutal!!! movement started with this initial interaction, but it’s become something no one owns. It’s now an open source label that winemakers use that use a specific method and are testing a vintage can use to participate in the movement that year.
Who makes Brutal!!! wine?
Because it isn’t an organization with a website to give us all this information, much of this info could be inaccurate, but from what I've seen, there are around 20 people making these wines and it can expand by someone with the label bestowing the label on another winemaker. Some of the big hitters that we know are making the wines include:Christian Tschida, Mendall, Gut Oggau, Pirouette and others across Australia, California, France, Spain, Austria and probably others.
Where can I find it?
This is the trickier part. These wines are typically highly allocated (a lot of stores have already claimed them) so they can be hard to find. We've seen them in Boston at the Wine Bottega, a couple retail stores in Bushwick, and, of course, at Bar Brutal in Barcelona. So be on the lookout and when you find one, post about it and tag us! Our dream is to get one of them in a box in our wine club, but we're still searching for the right producer for that.