The constantly growing consumer search for everything biological and natural has been spreading through the whole food industry and the wine industry is not immune to this trend.
Nowadays, consumers are exposed to a lot of trade names in labels – biological wines, biodynamic, natural, etc.
It’s the latest concept that has been the source of disagreement between wine specialists and enthusiasts. Maybe because of the lack of legislation, this concept has been the target of a lot of definitions and interpretations, making it impossible to reach an unanimous opinion about what is a natural wine.
Generally speaking, a natural wine is all about letting nature and the terroir of the vineyard express themselves as much as possible in the wine’s final profile. Within this concept, human intervention is either inexistent or kept to a minimum and nature takes control both on the vineyard and on the cellar. In the vineyard, the focus is on biological or biodynamic agriculture and manual harvest. In the cellar, the use of correctives like tartaric acid or enablers like the addition of nutrients is not allowed in order to let the fermentation process occur without interruptions or setbacks. The fermentation should happen in a spontaneous way and only because of the natural yeasts of the grape.
Some more flexible advocates of this method allow the addition of a small amount of sulphurous – which will later on create the famous sulphites – at the time of bottling.
Due to these specifications in the wine making process, natural wines are characterized by its discrepancy from year to year or even bottle to bottle because wine is a living organism that ages differently in each bottle.
We’ve always heard that trends are cyclical but so far never associated with wine. The truth is what was made and practiced in this industry during last year is becoming a reality again.
Beatriz Palhais, oenologist | PMC