What is Natural Wine?

Natural wine goes beyond organic wine

Natural wine is a product as natural as possible, made with minimal intervention and no or minimal additives. All natural wines are at least organic wines (either with or without a label), but only a small proportion of organic wines are natural wines. Organic wines have no chemical pesticides used on the land, but the majority of organic wines are not made naturally. The fermentation of the wine often involves extensive intervention and addition. In a perfect transparent world we would be able to read this from the label, but unfortunately the wine industry is not that far along. With natural wines, you continue the organic line: where you don't intervene on the land, you don't do so in the winery either.

The experiential and continuous effects of drinking wine made naturally

The illustration below shows which interventions and additions are allowed in, from left to right, conventional wines, organic wines, biodynamic wines and natural wines. It will be clear that with conventional and organic wines, all kinds of interventions and additions are allowed, which can make the original character of the grape and the terroir unrecognizable. An important factor here is the amount of sulfite added, the limits of which are listed in this illustration under the bottles. Although sulfite also plays the good role of preventing oxidation of the wine, it is considered a major detriment to the pure flavor and aroma of the grape.

Promoting diversity and product balance 

It is often said of natural wines that they do not keep long, and need to be constantly chilled. Nothing could be further from the truth. If humans have not intervened, the strongest organisms remain in a naturally made wine, providing a natural resilience that industrial wines cannot match. With many conventional wines you will often look in vain for a distinctive character. Due to chemical spraying, the natural yeasts on the skin of the grape have died off, and industrial yeasts must be added that give the wines an identical taste and aroma. With natural wines, nature does the work and local organisms contribute to the unique character of a wine.

Naturally occurring versus added sulphites 

We admire wine producers who battle the vagaries of nature with only minimal resources to make the most stable and pure wines possible. And we have even greater admiration for those who, based on a long learning process, have managed to accomplish this even without any added sulfites. But we also know that in some climates, for some wines, and in some years it may be necessary for the quality of the wine to add a minimal amount of sulfite at bottling. Of great importance is to know that there is a distinction between naturally generated sulfites and added sulfites. Only added sulfites put a damper on the wine. But even with those natural wines where there is only naturally generated sulfites, there is often 'Contains Sulfites' on the label due to allergy legislation. There is no legal definition of natural wine yet, with a maximum allowed amount of added sulfites. For us the limit is around 30 milligrams added per liter, but that is only a guideline. Up to that limit it is possible without any problem to taste the wine's own character: the recognizable elements grape, terroir, and the hand of the maker, which together make natural wine the only wine for us.

How can I identify and locate wines that are naturally made?

Unfortunately, there is not yet an official definition or a legal label for natural wine, as there is for organic and biodynamic wine. As a result, there are currently slightly different definitions of "natural wine", accompanied by slightly different maximum allowed amounts of added sulfite. This confusing situation is also not helped by the fact that in some wine-producing countries it is forbidden to mention "natural wine" or "no added sulfite" on the label. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable consensus on what natural wine is, propagated by the natural wine movement, which has created a network of natural wine fairs, restaurants, cafes, and stores around the world, mostly found on the natural wine app 'Raisin'. As long as the law doesn't clarify, the best place to start is at these addresses.

 

Natural Wines Apogee

We believe that the most exceptional and outspoken wines are those that find themselves at the crossroads between biodynamic agriculture and artisanal natural wine making. It would seem obvious enough that those winemakers who are devout agricultural & passionate of the land would also refrain from manipulation in the cellar, but this isn't always the case; for us, this is crucial. Biodynamic agriculture takes unified view of the vineyard and it's surroundings as one living organism, one to be balanced and integrated with the wild environment. Biodynamic principles promote natural equilibrium; raise temperature, increase biodiversity, promote life for healthy microorganisms & regenerate soils that for decades, had been worked to detrimental levels. The healthy fruit makes healthy wine ethos, though simplified stands true. The work in the cellar because a task of maintaining want the land has given forth to the maker and displaying it in its best light.