What is natural wine?
It’s all the rage nowadays: natural wines. But what are they exactly?
Natuurwijn, vin nature, vin naturel, natural wines. Potato, Potato.
What it is, is actually fairly simple: a wine made like mother nature would have wanted. No artificial intervention.
To understand exactly how this differs from conventional wine making, I’ll walk you through the process.
It all starts in the vineyard. No artificial fertilizers for the soil and vines, and no chemical (artificial) pest control: only natural products are allowed here.
In France it has been officially registered what Vin Nature is, thereby creating a legal fundament for Denomination of Origin.
This legislation, amongst other things, states that grapes used for the production of natural wines should be manually harvested.
Generally speaking, they state that “brute intervention techniques” are prohibited. Example techniques are reverse osmosis and thermo-vinification.
Moving on to the vinification itself. The biologically grown grapes can only be sulfurized just before or after the fermentation. It goes to say that the amount of sulphur used is very low.
Fermentation is often kick-started by adding yeasts (either artificial or natural). For natural wines, only “spontaneous” fermentation or natural (wild) yeasts can be used to start the process.
When the fermentation process is finished, generally winemakers move on to the clear the wine (basically make it ‘transparent’ by removing residue). A popular aid is egg yolks. But hey, eggs come from chicken and hence are not allowed for natural wines.
Mix this with the prescribed regulations for filtration, and voilá you have yourselves a cloudy Vin Naturel.
Personally, I love myself some good innovation (in this case, maybe the opposite?). I’m always keen to find out what everybody came up with now. I think it keeps the winemakers on their toes. The natural wines that I’ve tried so far did not disappoint (understatement). They have this typicity that I need more training on (you know what I mean) to be able to describe properly.
To be continued…