Natural Wine and Natural Winemaking: The Lowdown on Low Intervention, Organic, and Biodynamic
If you're a wine enthusiast, you might have heard of natty wine. But what exactly is it, and how does it differ from regular wine? In simple terms, natural wine is made with minimal intervention and without the use of chemicals, preservatives, or additives. Here's what you need to know about natural winemaking and the principles that guide it.
Low Intervention Winemaking: Letting the Grapes Do the Talking
Unlike conventional winemaking, which often involves a heavy hand of additives and processing techniques, natural winemaking takes a "less is more" approach. This means letting the grapes and the natural fermentation process do the talking. Natural winemakers use wild yeast instead of commercial yeast to ferment the grapes, and they reduce filtration, which can strip away the unique flavours and textures of the wine. As a result, natural wine has a more authentic expression of the grape varietal, terroir, and vintage.
Organic and Sustainable Practices: Caring for the Earth and Your HealthAnother essential aspect of natural winemaking is the commitment to organic and sustainable practices. This means using organic or biodynamically grown grapes and avoiding synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers. Natural winemakers prioritise soil health and biodiversity, recognising that healthy soils produce healthy grapes and wine. By avoiding synthetic chemicals, natural winemakers reduce the risk of harmful residues in the wine and the environment.
Sulphites and Natural Winemaking: A Delicate BalanceOne of the most contentious aspects of natural winemaking is the use of sulphites. Sulphites are a naturally occurring compound that are often added to regular wine as a preservative and stabiliser. However, some people are sensitive to sulphites and may experience headaches, allergic reactions, or other symptoms. Natural winemakers use minimal amounts of sulphites or no sulphites at all, which can make the wine more fragile and prone to spoilage. As a result, natural wine is often fresher and more alive, but also more delicate and requires careful storage and handling.
Biodynamic Winemaking: Putting the Moon and the Stars in Your GlassFinally, we have biodynamic winemaking. This approach takes natural winemaking to another level, incorporating lunar cycles, astrological signs, and herbal preparations into the winemaking process. Biodynamic winemakers see the vineyard as a holistic ecosystem, and they aim to harmonise the energies of the sun, moon, and stars to create a wine that is in balance with nature. Some may view biodynamic winemaking as a bit woo-woo, but the results speak for themselves: biodynamic wines are often complex, nuanced, and unforgettable.
Natural wine and natural winemaking offer a new way of looking at wine for those seeking authenticity, sustainability, and health. By prioritising low intervention, organic and sustainable practices, minimal sulphites, and biodynamic principles, natural winemakers create wines that are alive, vibrant, and full of character. So the next time you're browsing the wine selection, consider trying a natty wine and tasting the difference for yourself.