‘Natural’ is not a certification on the back of a wine label; it is a philosophy, a way of life adopted by winegrowers who want to produce authentic and exciting wines that vibrate with energy. A philosophy that begins in the vineyard and ends in the glass.
In May 2017, Decanter magazine looked for a definition and sought out the help of Doug Wregg, Isabelle Legeron MW, Simon Woolf, David Harvey and Monty Waldin. Collating their responses, they came up with the following criteria:
Vineyards must be farmed organically or biodynamically – certification is preferred but not required. • Grapes must be harvested by hand, yields must be reduced • Fermentation only with indigenous yeast. • No enzymes. • No additives can be added (such as acid, tannin or colouring) other than tiny dose of SO2 • Total SO2 levels must be extremely low • Unfined and no (or light) filtration. • No other heavy manipulation can be applied (such as spinning cone, reverse osmosis, cryoextraction, rapidfinishing, ultraviolet C irradiation…)
So, what does this technical jargon really mean? If we pare it back, we are simply calling for a return to old practices of viticulture and vinification, when wine was made with grapes and nothing else but care and dedication from the winegrower. Starting with well-tended, healthy vines, who grow in harmony in their biodiverse environment. Grapes are manually harvested at peak maturity, when the balance of sugar, nutrients, anti-oxidant, acidity etc. is reached, so that none of these need to be adjusted with synthetic additives nor heavy manipulations. Extraction is low and gentle, more like an infusion, fermentation takes its course naturally, sometimes last for several seasons. Nothing is rushed, no corners are cut.
The end result allows the wine to express the grape variety, the year and the land seamlessly. Typically these wines dance on the tongue and palate as they vibrate with energy, they are exciting, deliver amazing drinkability and digestibilty as well as delicious, pure flavours.
«We are not against organic or biodynamic, but we simply think these practices are not the arrival point but the starting point for those who want to produce natural wine» Angiolino Maule, La Biancara
Ciello Bianco ‘Catarratto’, Sicily, Italy
The dynamic Vesco family organic vineyards are located high up in the hills above Alcamo. The wines are all organic and planted on south-east facing slopes on the island of Sicily, on sandy soils 150 – 300m above sea level. Fragrant and crisp, the Catarratto is fresh and vibrant, delicate flavours of white fruit, hints of peach and lemon zest mid palate and soft notes of marzipan on its bright finish. Unfined (suitable for vegans) and unfiltered, so will have a small (natural) sediment
Gran Cerdo Tempranillo, Spain
An uoaked organic Tempranillo from the Rioja Alta region – with a cheeky label dedicated to the bank that wouldn’t give the winemaker a loan. This was on the basis that wine was not a siezeable asset! So his friends crowd-funded him instead. Wine with character – made by a real character, Gonzalo Gonzalo.
Gran Cerdo has all the juicy elements of the Tempranillo grape variety with flavours and aromas of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and violets with refreshing minerality. Unoaked natural wine made from 35 year old organic vineyards of the Gonzalo family in the heart of the La Rioja Alta region.