ABOUT NATURAL WINES
Natural wines must be vinified as naturally as possible. This means that after it has been cultivated organically or bio dynamically, there must be a minimum use of additives and technological manipulations.
Natural growers make a panoply of wines, but all share a similar outlook: nurturing biodiversity while embracing and observing nature, rather than fighting to control it.
Then how then does natural wine differ from ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ bottlings? According to Alexandre Bain, Pouilly-Fumé’s only natural wine producer, ‘organic and biodynamic are the tools, natural is the philosophy’.
However, in Europe today these tools essentially govern practices in the vineyard rather than the winery. By contrast, natural wines extend this philosophy into the cellar, and are far stricter about what is and isn’t permitted.
They are all about low intervention in the cellar. There is, for example, no rectification of sugars or acidity, no addition of yeasts and no removal of excess dilution in a wet vintage. They are as nature intended: a frank representation of a piece of land in a particular year.
As Nicolas Joly from La Coulée de Serrant puts it ‘to achieve zero technology in the cellar, you need to be an artist in the vineyard’.
This lack of additives is claimed by natural wine proponents to be a boon for wine drinkers, as anecdotal evidence suggests that natural wines induce fewer side effects than their conventional counterparts.
’Detractors say that natural is often an excuse for poor winemaking. But then, what is the definition of a ‘fault’? Paul Old from Les Clos Perdus, a natural wine producer in the Languedoc, says ‘making great wine is to flirt with fault’.
Fine natural wines are vibrant and alive, and show excitingly diverse personalities that are full of emotion.