Natural Wine Introduction
Natural Wines - Organic, Biodynamic & Sulphite Free Wines
Natural wines are our speciality whether they be sulphite free, certified organic or certified biodynamic. Or in some cases with no certification at all, just good wines made naturally free from nasty additives.
Sulphite free wines are as natural as you can get. If the winemaker doesn't add sulphites, which are a vital ingredient in inferior quality wines, it's a very safe bet that he won't be adding any significant quantity of the other 80+ additives permitted in mainstream wines. Sulphites are used for various purposes in wine including killing off unwanted bacteria, but their main purpose is as an anti oxidant. Unless you are starting with top quality fruit and then vinifying with great care, knowledge, skill and patience, sulphites will be needed in your wine.
It takes real dedication to make wine with no sulphites, and is high risk, fraught with potential danger. Most winemakers simply don't have the skill or the confidence to do it. So anybody making wine without sulphites won't be spoiling them by adding other unneccessary chemicals.
"Natural wine" has no legal definition and this is where everything gets confusing. People automatically think that certified organic wine is natural and healthy - but that is not always the case. It is a paradox that you can have an EU certified organic wine which contains over 40 additives and has been heavily manipulated including the addition of tartaric acid and very heavy filtering (reverse osmosis). At the same time you can have a bottle of wine that has no legal organic status but has been made strictly with no chemical additives whatsoever but is not permitted to describe itself as organic, such as those from Domaine Viret for example. Philippe Viret's wines are simply fermented grape juice, as natural as you can get.
These wines are where the "natural wine" category comes in. This category is supposed to be for wines made with little or no additives or manipulation. Unfortunately the term has already been hijacked by producers and retailers who don't understand the subject and use the term to market their organic wines (which may or may not be natural).
Isabel Legeron did introduce a set of rules for wines wanting to display at her RAW Natural Wine Fair. Sadly we disagreed on a couple of points. Namely she permitted sulphites to be added which I didn't think was right, but she also insisted on the grapes being fermented solely with their own yeast. Johnathan Frey who has been producing completely sulphite free, USA Organically certified wines with no chemical additives whatsoever for over 30 years, was not allowed to display his wines at RAW because he used an introduced organic yeast. His wines are as pure as you can get, yet Isabel didn't allow them, but was permitting virtually all the wines in the show to add sulphites!
So as you can see, even the purists disagree on this term.
The truth is there are genuine organic wines and genuine biodynamic wines with only tiny amounts of additives. But all EU certified organic and biodynamic wines are permitted under current regulations to add more than enough sulphites to give a sulphite allergic person a potentially fatal reaction.
Good quality NATURAL WINE is actually very good for your health and regular consumption can significantly reduce your likelihood of contracting cancer, heart disease, stroke, dememntia, Allzheimer's Disease, blindness, diabetes and many more. It reduces your bad cholesterol and increases your good cholesterol.
Click this link to read a fascinating paper by Dr Phil Norrie (MBBS, MSc, MSocSc (Hons), PhD, MA, MD, M.Phil) outlining all the benefits, and explaining where all the research and evidence has been gathered from. Turn to page 4 first for the benefits then read it from the beginning. Dr Phil recommends 2 to 3 glasses per day for optimum benefit, but remember it must be good natural wine, not processed wine which would have a detrimental effect on your health.