There’s a new trend in the world of wine, and like many new trends in our increasingly eco-conscious world, it has a distinctly natural nose. We are, of course, talking about natural wine, a concept that has left plenty of wine lovers confused as it has risen to fame over the past decade.
But what exactly is natural wine and how does is differ from your average, everyday wine? Here we explore the topic to give you all the information you need to start enjoying natural wines (hopefully) without the headache!
What is Natural Wine?
The “new” trend for natural wine is, in fact, not all that new. Some sources trace the beginning of the movement back to 1960s France, where a group of winemakers began exploring ways to make great wine using natural methods, returning to time-honoured processes used by their grandparents. Going even further back, natural wine is often connected with the Swiss and German Lebensreform movements of the late 19th century, although more often than not these would be non-fermented grape juices rather than real wine.
In both cases, the common denominator is simple, traditional processes that use no pesticides or herbicides and no additives. In addition to this, natural wine is often produced in small batches without the use of industrial machinery or techniques. Finally, these wines typically use natural yeasts within the fermentation process rather than instant, commercial yeasts.
The bottom line is then, that natural wine is simply a return to the way in which wine used to made before industrial processes changed the way wine is produced forever! However, herein lies the confusion. There is no official legal definition of natural wine, rather, a group of unofficial definitions and codes that variously describe production. In fact, there is no governing body or authority to certify that any given wine is, in fact, natural.
Natural wine is often organic, although not always. Natural wines are usually made using a blend of grapes; however, they can also be made from a single varietal. Natural wine prides itself on low intervention from the winemaker, but this varies from vintner to vintner. Natural wines may also include no-added sulphites, but sometimes these are also included during the process.
For these reasons, natural wine is also often called biodynamic wine, low-intervention wine, raw wine, and naked wine, with some crossover with organic wines too. The fact is, identifying what constitutes a natural wine is not a simple task, and today, there are many wines which are more “natural” than others. Our best definition for natural wines is simply that it is a return to older processes with reduced technical intervention. A far cry from “conventional” winemakers that may add a range of “non-natural” additives to standardize their product year after year.
Taste Natural Wines @ Grape People
So, we know that natural wines are:
- Often organic, although not always
- Usually made from grapes that are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides
- Free from added chemicals such as sulphites
- Produced with as little intervention as possible
But the real question is, of course, what do natural wines taste like? Well, one study conducted in 2016 suggests that experts can tell the difference, with natural wine coming out on top over conventional wines.
However, many people take some time getting used to natural wines, and they are often described as having a sour taste and a striking aroma, sometimes likened to naturally fermented drinks such as kombucha or craft beer. However, this only begins to tell the story the exciting flavours, tastes, and colours coming out of the natural wine movement.
Currently, some of our favourite natural wines include:
- Carlo Noro Collefurno, 2016
- Biscaris Inzolia U' Duca, 2014
- Mócevò, Palazzo Tronconi, 2016
- Marco De Bartoli Sole e Vento, 2014
- Larmandier - Bernier Latitude Extra Brut, NV
- Palazzo Tronconi, Zitore, 2016
- Palazzo Tronconi, Fregellae, 2016
- Cà del Vént Saten, 2010
- Casa Raia Bevilo, 2013
For more information on natural wines, subscribe the Grape People blog or get in touch today to start your explorations into a world of carefully curated international tastes.