The very term ‘natural wine’ is hotly discussed around the wine world. Overall it has been agreed that natural wines are those that are produces via organic and sustainable and/or biodynamic viticultural practises, and are made with minimal winemaking intervention. Natural wines are made by small estates the world over with more and more wineries tagging along each year in a race to create wines that are the true examples of the grapes or ‘terroir’ they hold.
Natural winemaking is often seen as a revolt against the mass-produced take on winemaking. The sort of winemaking that leads to all of the wines found in supermarkets around the globe – wines that are made with the addition of tannins, acidity and even colouring agents to perfect a highly crafted wine. As impressive as that is, it is that take on winemaking that is more science than art that natural winemakers wish to get away from. Natural winemakers will pick their grapes, press them into juice and ferment that juice and bottle the finished wine with little or no sulphur dioxide (a preservative). It is the lack of sulphur dioxide that has caused such a response with customers who are getting more sensitive to sulphur in wines – as the mass-produced wines, as mentioned above, tend to be using more.
The first modern winemakers to take on a natural practises did so with a desire to create wines that were closer to those of ancient winemakers who didn’t have the ability to have such additions and created a more pure and natural product.
Alongside of the natural wine movement has seen the uprise of winemakers making ‘orange wines’ – white wines that have had skin contact like a red wine. As well as more winemakers using older fermentation and ageing vessels other than your standard tank or oak barrel – such as clay amphorae.