I got into natural wine while researching organic wines as I was updating my wine list (yet again) and learning that organic, by definition, did not necessarily mean that the wine didn’t contain ‘nasties’ or that it was in fact small-scale, family or community driven or produced.
In fact some wines using organically grown grapes may still contain a whole host of chemicals. This led me to find and embrace natural wines. Some of the cheap, mass-produced wines that suppliers were selling to me, were (I can see & taste now) shadows of what proper wine should be. Wine for me is not just fermented grapes, it is living art, it is family, community, nature…
As a boutique wine & tapas bar owner, I took the decision to ONLY stock natural, organically or biodynamically produced wines, thus becoming Ireland’s First All Natural Wine Bar.
The following is a great little clip about natural wines, the fact that the wine maker was sat next to Lyall Watson is a bonus and the fact that he is also a surfer (like myself) is a double whammy!
Having had a look around the web for some definitions of natural wine, I came across this little beauty, found at: http://www.morethanorganic.com/definition-of-natural-wine
Defining natural wine
Most good winemakers see themselves as non-interventionist, or natural. They try to use as few additives as possible and as little manipulation as they can.
Most of them have to compromise at some point. Where and why they make that compromise depends on what they are trying to achieve and how much they are prepared to risk in order to achieve it.
So we need to be clear exactly what we mean by natural wine.
A natural wine is a wine made,
- in small quantities,
- by an independent producer,
- on low-yielding vineyards,
- from handpicked, organically grown grapes,
- without added sugars or foreign yeasts,
- without adjustments for acidity,
- without micro-oxygenation or reverse-osmosis.
A natural wine contains no more than,
- 10 mg/l total sulphur if red,
- 25 mg/l total sulphur if white.
The perfect natural wine
In a perfect world all natural wines would be unfiltered, unfined, and completely unsulphured. In reality this is not always possible.
The perfectly natural wine is best seen as the goal towards which the natural winemaker is striving. Sometimes he will get closer than others. Just occasionally he will achieve it.
The winemakers that interest us are those who get closest most often.
But exactly how a wine is made is not something that can be decided in advance. Each year, and each wine, is different. The winemaker has to improvise.
There will always be times when, however reluctantly, he has to intervene to prevent it from spoiling.
Here are some more interesting links about natural wines: