So it would seem that natural wine has varying standards of natural-ness and some wines can be more natural than others. But how can this be, nature does what it does? We are all aware if the difficulties that come from global warming, the rising global temperatures, the extreme freak weather anomalies etc, But, if we have learnt anything from Mother Nature, you get what you give, with the increasing number of organic and biodynamic producers, we are starting to experience life without chemicals.
Did you know that the term ‘Natural Wine’ has a very open-ended definition? To define Organic Wine, you simply have to make wine that’s made from grapes harvested from a vineyard that’s free from any synthetic herbicides, pesticides fungicides and fertilisers. This is followed by a maximum level of sulphites in the wine, with 100 mg/l for red organic wines and 120 mg/l for white organic wines. Then Biodynamic wines which is similar, but goes a step further to include a self-sustainable eco-system and no extra yeasts or intervention to reduce acidity etc.
Then that leaves Natural wines, well its definition is organically produced grapes that are made with minimal intervention from the winemaker. But what exactly does minimal intervention really mean? Let’s be honest, depending on your harvest and the commercial viability of your business, that can be stretched pretty far! Vin Naturel is an organisation based in Europe that offers some kind of controls, with the minimal intervention being a maximum of 30 and 40 mg/l for red and white organic wines respectively. But now we have Les Vins Sans Aucun Intrant Ni Sulfites, or S.A.I.N.S for short.
S.A.I.N.S. and other organisations came into existence due to a rather somewhat slapstick political satire from Italy. Enoteca Bulzoni, is a wine shop in Rome that has been selling natural wines since it opened in 1929. In 2012 they were subject to an investigation by the Italian Ministry for Agriculture who forced a fine upon them because they were selling a wine under a certification that did not exist, natural wine. Whilst technically correct and incorrect at the time, the family paid and continued doing what they were doing.
So, after all this, winemakers realised that they had to do something. We all understand the need for governments to try and save money, claw back funds and make ends meet and there is difference vantage points as to how. But fining every natural winemaker due to the lack of certification really shouldn’t be allowed. After all, the only thing that they have done is care about the wine, the earth and the end consumer!
S.A.I.N.S was started with only 11 winemakers, 10 from France and 1 from Italy and they are based on mutual trust and respect for each other as well as the earth. Entry is based on a unanimous decision without inspection to verify the claims the winemakers make. Some might say that this again can be abused, but should you have your vineyard inspected by the various government agencies you should then be able to prove this.
At Organic Wine Club, we are priviledged to now have stock of the wine from Italy from Terre Di Gnirega! This declassified Valpolicella has a beautiful aroma dark fruits and violets with an earthy and mixed berry fruit flavours and a surprising mineral finish!