In the last few years there has been a growing interest in natural wines, characterised by minimal intervention winemaking, the use of native yeast, and reduced sulfite additions, natural wines represent a return to the basics, emphasising authenticity, sustainability, and a genuine connection to the land.
When it comes to production of natural wines, the winemaker allows the grapes to ferment and develop into wine with minimal interference. Natural winemakers often embrace organic or biodynamic farming methods, avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.
This approach contrasts with conventional winemaking, which may involve the use of additives, filtration, and other processes to achieve a desired flavour profile. The goal of minimal intervention is to showcase the unique characteristics of the grapes and the terroir, allowing the wine to express its true nature.
Natural winemakers often rely on the use of native or wild yeast strains for fermentation instead of commercial yeasts. Native yeasts are naturally present in the vineyard and winery environment. Using them can contribute to the creation of more diverse and complex flavours in the wine, as the fermentation process is driven by the unique microbial populations present in the specific vineyard.
Sulfites are chemical compounds, including sulphur dioxide, commonly used in winemaking as preservatives and to prevent oxidation. Natural wines typically have lower levels of added sulfites compared to conventional wines. While sulfites can help stabilise wine and prevent spoilage, some consumers are sensitive to them and prefer wines with minimal or no added sulfites.
The natural wine movement is closely tied to the broader trend of consumers seeking artisanal and authentic products. There is an appreciation for the hands-on approach of natural winemakers who prioritise quality over quantity and allow the wine to develop organically.
Here is a mention of a few wineries that produce natural wines:
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (aka DRC), originally from France, is one of the most expensive wines in the world. It is known for embracing biodynamic farming practices and minimal intervention winemaking. Their commitment to expressing the unique terroir of each vineyard plot has elevated them to legendary status in the world of wine. Best of Wines
Ruth Lewandowski Wine, from Utah, USA, is known for being a groundbreaker in the natural wine scene. Evan Lewandowski of Ruth Lewandowski Wines focuses on minimal intervention and sustainable practices. His wines, produced from high-altitude vineyards, showcase the untamed beauty of the American West. https://www.ruthlewandowskiwines.com/
Claus Preisinger, originally from Burgenland, Austria, is known for its commitment to biodynamic farming. Claus Preisinger
La Stoppa, originally from Italy, has practised organic and biodynamic farming for decades. Their orange wine, ‘Ageno,’ made from the rare indigenous grape variety Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, exemplifies their dedication to traditional winemaking methods. La Stoppa
The growing interest in natural wines reflects a shift in consumer preferences towards transparency, authenticity, and sustainability. Natural winemaking practices, such as minimal intervention, the use of native yeast, and reduced sulfite additions, contribute to wines with unique flavours and a closer connection to the vineyard and the winemaking process.