“I honestly envision a space where people can come and drink some great natural wine, knowing that whatever they get doesn't have a bunch of crap in it — a place where we can have an honest conversation about wine,” Fryer said.
“Natural wine” is simply wine that has been transformed from grapes without adding or removing anything in the production process. These wines typically are produced in minimal quantities by smaller vineyards. They use organic fruit, often farmed biodynamically (using permaculture).
The result of minimal intervention is wine that is living, with naturally occurring microorganisms. It’s the most ancient form of wine.
For many drinkers, natural wine is new territory, as are natural wine bars. They exist as counterpoints to the stodgy wine bars that arose in the 1980s.
8Arm Wine still has an antiestablishment vibe. It’s dark, and exceptionally cool, with walls painted black. There is none of the wine-themed decoration typical of wine bars. The staff is friendly, attentive and eager to discuss “varietal” vs. “variety.” Music plays on a record player. Sometimes, the tunes are deep alternative cuts from Fryer’s personal collection; sometimes, vintage jazz.
“I want it to be an open and inviting space where people don't feel intimidated, can come back day after day, find something new each time, and have a fun experience with us each time,” Fryer said. “We want 8Arm Wine to be somewhere you can pop into for a quick glass, or hang out all night.”
A rare find in Atlanta at 8Arm Wine: Martha Stoumen 2018 Venturi Vineyard Carignan.
Credit: Angela Hansberger
Credit: Angela Hansberger
The wine list is diverse and purposeful, spanning wine regions from Slovenia to South Africa. Fryer, who holds a CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) Level 1 distinction, made sure to include men and women, from new and old world regions, from among the small producers he has followed for years.
Fryer said he created the opening list by trying to focus on “some of the iconic (producers) and trailblazers for natural wine in France, Italy and California — Dirty & Rowdy, Thierry Puzelat from Clos du Tue-Boeuf in the Loire, La Clarine Farms in California, Arianna Occhipinti from Sicily, Elisabet Foradori in Northern Italy, Celler-Escoda-Sanahuja in Catalonia.”
Like Ink, the natural wine bar has a menu of tinned seafood and conserva, with the addition of a few plated dishes — cheese plates, pates and desserts. The tea ceremony known as gong fu still is offered, with a long list of rare teas. The bottle list is unified with 8Arm restaurant, though there are more by-the-glass options in the wine bar. There also are fortified wines by the glass or flight, and a small list of cocktails. Daily specials include rosé and orange wine on Tuesdays, wines by female producers on Wednesdays, sherry on Thursdays, and magnums on Saturdays. Fridays bring the opportunity for vertical or horizontal tastings.
Soon enough, you might find yourself saying something like, “I had the most effervescent, off-dry, skin-contact chenin blanc from Conca de Barbera last night.” Or, you might just say, “I had a yummy glass of red wine at 8Arm Wine last night.”
Either would sound perfect coming from customers of a new natural wine bar.
710 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com/
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