Going Au Naturale
Having made its debut at Tiong Bahru Bakery Safari at the end of March 2019, Drunken Farmer first burst into the local food and beverage scene as an exciting proposition: a first-of-its-kind travelling natural wine bar and consultancy. A fitting addition to lifestyle and F&B company Spa Esprit Group (SEG)—flag bearer to some of the city’s most iconic and trend-setting dining and drinking establishments—Drunken Farmer’s mission to encourage the understanding and appreciation for natural wine ties in with the group’s overarching wellness and sustainable ethos. Fuelling the nascent popularity of natural wines in Singapore, Drunken Farmer demonstrates SEG founder and chairman Cynthia Chua’s foresight to predict rising lifestyle uptrends, just as she did for third wave coffee with Forty Hands to vulva masks with Two Lips.
What sets natural wines apart from conventional ones is that they are made with minimal chemical and technological intervention, starting from the growing of the grapes through to the ways the wines are made. Natural winemakers and producers take a serious stance on being environmentally responsible and sustainable, using neither any chemical fertilisers in the vineyards (according to organic and/or biodynamic farming principles) nor any additives or preservatives in the winery. This results in clean, toxic-free, minimal-intervention wines that are good for both the environment and wine drinkers.
But what is most compelling about natural wines are the stories behind the bottles. Many natural wines are made by small-batch producers, who personally work the land, hand-harvest the grapes, make the wines – right down to labelling the bottles. And it is their close relationship with their terroir, their wisdom that informs each wine making decision, and the sheer dedication behind each harvest that fuels the life of the wine. Bayo notes, “Every bottle of wine tells a story of time and place, and of the winemaker’s passion; and this is what I try to convey to the wine drinkers here at The Butcher’s Wife.”
“Every bottle of wine tells a story of time and place, and of the winemaker’s passion; and this is what I try to convey to the wine drinkers here at The Butcher’s Wife.”Eduardo Bayo, Drunken farmer
Since August 2019, The Butcher’s Wife has been Drunken Farmer’s second stop on their nomadic adventure. Their monthly 5 Bites 5 Wines dinners—a collaborative event where diners are treated to five courses of gluten-free dishes from chef Mariana paired with five different natural wines curated by Bayo at a steal of S$65 per person—has become a permanent fixture on the estate’s social calendar, drawing flocks of discerning diners and curious onlookers. Through these dinners, Drunken Farmer has grown its own cult following with a growing appreciation and thirst for natural wines. This gave Bayo impetus to convert The Butcher’s Wife’s cellar to one fully stocked with natural wines through careful curation. On top of his regular sommelier duties, he also conducts regular wine training for the restaurant’s staff, preparing them to anticipate diners’ wine needs and preferences in the context of natural wine. Under their distribution and consultancy arm, Drunken Farmer also offers wine programme consultancy services on a B2B basis, helping bars and restaurants turn onto the joys of natural wines.
As a resident of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, Eduardo’s affinity and interaction with diners and regulars go beyond the four walls of The Butcher’s Wife. And it is his understanding of the neighbourhood’s zeitgeist that inspired him to set up a natural wine retail offering through a space at The Butcher’s Wife. “Among our regular diners are many Tiong Bahru residents, and as a Tiong Bahru resident myself, I see this as a friendly neighbourhood bottle shop for people—not just The Butcher’s Wife’s diners, but also the residents of the neighbourhood—to come learn about natural wines,” explains Bayo.
Wine lovers living around the Tiong Bahru area can also choose to order their wines from Deliveroo through The Butcher’s Wife, along with a selection of gluten-free delicacies from chef Mariana’s repertoire. With #socialdistancing slowly becoming the new normal as the world gets to grips with a pandemic that’s likely to carry on for the next few months, this provides a great opportunity for residents to enjoy tasty, well-made wines responsibly in the comfort of their homes, while still supporting the restaurant.
HAVE YOU MET ED?
Plucked from the thick of Montreal, Canada’s pulsating natural wine scene, the 44-year-old sommelier comes to Singapore with over 20 years of F&B experience—13 of which saw him dealing with wines—and a childhood spent growing up in a family of natural winemakers. Armed with extensive wine knowledge, the ability to speak three languages—English, French, and Spanish—and an affable personality, Bayo is passionate about the ethos behind natural wine and hopes to champion the grower to glass movement in Singapore. Having worked personally with many of the winemakers whose wines are carried by Drunken Farmer, Bayo is prone to regaling stories and interesting facts behind each bottle of wine. He says, “For me, to truly appreciate a wine is to know the passion and the motivations of the winemaker when he or she makes that particular wine; and this is what I hope to share with the wider public – be it through the diners I interact with or the restaurants I work with.”