Understanding the World of Natural Wine and Organic Wine
In a world where choices abound, the realm of wine is no exception. The shelves of wine stores are lined with bottles adorned with labels boasting various claims: natural, organic, biodynamic. It can be overwhelming to decipher what these terms truly mean and how they impact the wines we choose to savour.
Today you can embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries surrounding natural wine and organic wine. We will delve into their definitions and explore the nuances that set them apart from conventional wines. As our palates become more attuned to seeking authenticity in flavours, these types of wines have gained immense popularity in recent years.
Natural wine is a concept deeply rooted in simplicity and minimal intervention. It embraces the idea that winemaking should honour nature's course rather than manipulate it. To craft a natural wine is to work hand in hand with Mother Nature herself. From vineyard to bottle, every step seeks to preserve the integrity of the grapes.
Organic wine, on the other hand, extends its focus beyond winemaking practices alone. It encompasses an entire ecosystem where sustainable farming methods take centre stage. By eschewing synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and embracing organic alternatives, vineyards cultivate grapes that are free from chemical interference.
The allure of both natural and organic wines lies not only in their commitment to purity but also in their ability to express terroir—the unique characteristics derived from a specific region's soil, climate, and cultural influences. These wines are like storytellers unravelling tales through their vibrant aromas, distinctive flavours, and textured complexities.
To fully comprehend how natural wines come into being requires us to deeply understand their making—a process that champions organic grapes as its foundation. As we venture further into "The Making of Natural Wine," we will explore spontaneous fermentation—the magical dance between grape juice and wild yeasts—where nature takes the reins, leading to the creation of wines that are alive with energy and vibrancy.
In a future piece we will explore "The Production Process of Organic Wine," guiding us through the meticulous steps taken by organic winemakers. From vineyard management to certification standards, we will witness how these practices not only enhance the flavours found in organic wines but also contribute positively to our environment.
Making Natural Wine
As the sun sets over the picturesque vineyards, a winemaker stands amidst rows of lush green vines, their hands gently caressing the clusters of grapes. This is where the magic begins - the making of natural wine. Here we will delve into the intricate process that transforms these humble fruits into a complex and authentic expression of terroir.
At its core, natural wine is a celebration of nature's bounty. It starts with organic grapes, cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. These grapes are nurtured by Mother Earth herself, thriving in soils teeming with life and vitality. From vine to bottle, every step is guided by an unwavering commitment to minimal intervention.
Spontaneous fermentation is at the heart of natural winemaking. Unlike conventional methods that rely on commercial yeast strains to kick start fermentation, natural winemakers embrace wild yeasts present on grape skins and in their surroundings. This allows for a slower and more nuanced fermentation process, resulting in unique flavours and aromas that are truly one-of-a-kind.
As our winemaker carefully crushes the grapes, he knows that preserving their distinct characteristics is paramount. Minimal intervention means no additives or excessive manipulation - just pure grape juice slowly transforming into wine through its own inherent chemistry. The result is a vibrant tapestry of flavours and textures that reflect not only the grape variety but also the specific terroir from which it hails.
The journey from fermentation vessel to bottle requires patience and precision. Natural winemakers often opt for ageing in neutral vessels such as old oak barrels or clay amphorae to minimise any external influence on the wine's character. This allows for a more transparent expression of fruit purity, unencumbered by overpowering oak or other flavour profiles associated with new barrels.
But what about stability? Natural wines may appear cloudy or have sediments, but this is not a flaw. It is a testament to their authenticity and lack of filtration or fining. These wines are alive, evolving in the bottle, and inviting us to embrace their natural complexity.
As we raise our glasses to taste, the wine tells its story. On the nose, we are greeted by an array of aromas - ripe fruits, floral notes, earthy undertones - each one whispering tales of its origin. On the palate, the wine dances with vibrant acidity and subtle tannins, offering a symphony of flavours that lingers long after each sip.
Now we have explored the artistry behind natural winemaking - from organic grapes to spontaneous fermentation and minimal intervention. We have witnessed how these practices come together to create wines that are truly a reflection of nature's craftsmanship.
But what sets natural wine apart from its organic counterpart? We will delve into this comparison further in a future article. For now, let us revel in the beauty of natural wine - a testament to the power and purity of grapes transformed into liquid poetry.
As we bid adieu to our winemaker amidst those enchanting vineyards, we carry with us an appreciation for his labour of love. The making of natural wine is a delicate dance between man and nature - an ode to authenticity that captures our imagination and tantalises our taste buds.
NATURAL WINE CHARACTERISTICS
There is no universally accepted definition of natural wine, but there are some common characteristics that are often associated with it. These include:
- Organic or biodynamic farming: Natural wines are typically made from grapes that are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Some natural winemakers also practice biodynamic farming, which is a more holistic approach to agriculture that takes into account the lunar cycles and the overall ecosystem of the vineyard.
- Minimal intervention winemaking: Natural wines are made with minimal intervention in the winemaking process. This means that no artificial yeasts, sugar, acid, or other additives are used. The wines are also typically not filtered or fined, which can leave some sediment in the bottle.
- Expressive of the terroir: Natural wines are often said to be more expressive of the terroir, or the unique characteristics of the vineyard where the grapes were grown. This is because natural winemakers do not use additives to mask the flavors of the grapes.
- Variable in style: Natural wines can vary widely in style, from light and fruity to funky and earthy. This is because the winemaking process is more hands-off, which allows the natural characteristics of the grapes to shine through.
- Low in sulfites: Natural wines typically contain lower levels of sulfites than conventional wines. Sulfites are added to wine to prevent oxidation and spoilage, but they can also cause allergic reactions in some people.
It is important to note that not all wines that meet these criteria are considered natural wines. Some winemakers who use organic or biodynamic farming practices may still add additives to their wines. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not a wine is considered natural is up to the individual consumer.