The answer is unfortunately a bit complex. First of all, it is important to know that there is no internationally recognized definition of natural wine, and by now it almost seems that every winery, every association, every sommelier and every natural wine nerd has his own definition. There is actually only one thing that everyone can agree on: Natural wine must be made from grapes grown organically or biodynamically. And even there, some find that the organic label is too little.
What natural wine purists say
Purists will say that nothing but grape juice must be added to natural wine, the wine must not be strongly cooled or heated, and above all, it must not be filtered or fined. The French "Vin méthode nature" label, for example, adheres to this definition.
What "Vin méthode Nature" requires
- Hand harvesting of the grapes
- No addition of yeast
- No addition of other agents such as sugar
- No "brutal and traumatic" methods, such as fining, reverse osmosis, filtration, tangential flow filtration, flash pasteurization, thermovinification and centrifugation
- No addition of sulfites, with the label divided into classifications of "No added sulfites" and a "Below 30 mg/L" classification
We classify and select natural wines
We work mainly with wineries that are small and independent. Even if a winery is completely purist, but resembles a large corporation, it is unlikely that you will ever find these wines here. But we also work only with winemakers who try everything to make their wines as natural as possible. If a winemaker is so small that he can't afford an organic certification, wants to filter a little bit or adds a little bit more than 30mg sulfites in order not to have to throw the wine away, we don't reject it. But above all one thing is important to us: that the wine tastes special and especially good. Due to the longer ripening of the grapes as a result of the ban on chemical fertilizers, the wines usually have a particularly juicy character, which is why natural wine is often called "juice" in English-speaking countries. We also don't want to miss the special flavor profile from the omission of fining in our wines, and we don't want the massive addition of sulfites (often over 130 mg/L) as is done in most conventional wines anyway.So, now you're a natural wine nerd too, and can start arguing with others. How many sulfites should be allowed now, is minimal filtration okay (and then of course how big the holes of the filter may be) and which biodynamic seal is better: Demeter or Bioland?