This is the slightly more technical, perhaps boring part as it goes down to the specifics. However, it is essential because it underpins the natural qualities of every bottle of wine that we offer. In our eyes transparency is key.
Good wine comes from good grapes; unsurprisingly, a good raw ingredient is important for a high-quality end-product. With wine, it is essential as it eliminates the need for winemaking additives that mask or change any colour, aroma, texture or taste.
This is why natural wine is made only from organically or biodynamically farmed grapes that are hand-harvested. It ensures that no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or any other chemicals end up in the wine and that the grapes arrive intact to the cellar without any premature fermentation, which happens with mechanised harvesting.
Once in the cellar, the most central part of the process takes place; the fermentation:
sugar from the grape juice is transformed into alcohol by the yeast that is naturally present on the skin of the grape. The fermentation process also releases flavours and aromas which are unique to the grape variety within its particular setting. This is one of the reason, for example, why Malbec from Argentina is different from Malbec in France.
In the production of conventional wine, commercial yeast is added onto the tanks in order to achieve specific aroma and taste profiles. Some of the larger producers of conventional wine employ chemists in their cellars, who carry out experiments with types and quantity of yeast in a laboratory environment.
The EU allows the addition of 60 different substance agents into wine; it is a higher number in other countries.
Apart from yeast, conventional winemaker add colourants such as “mega purple” or “sunset yellow” to achieve a certain colour, artificial tannins to achieve a certain palate profile, acids to regulate the acidity of the wine, fruit juice and the list goes on. None are used with natural wine. The only additive allowed in natural wine is a very small amount of sulphite, which in many cases is not added at all, as it occurs naturally as part of the winemaking process. All-natural wine do not contain any animal product so are suitable for consumption by consumers with vegan and vegetarians preferences.
Alongside substance additives, conventional winemakers may use a host of heavy manipulation techniques such as heating of the tanks in order to speed up the process of alcohol creation – it allows them to achieve the required level of alcohol within a tight schedule, however, the heat is proven to change the taste of the wine. Another example of heavy manipulation is the addition of thickening agents that create a “full-body” in wine or the addition of wood chips for a more woody flavour.
Finally, natural wine has a fraction of the total level of sulphites that are allowed in conventional wine. Sulphites can cause an allergic reaction with some people and with high levels mutes the taste of the wine. All of our wines contain up to 50 milligrams per litre of Sulphites (Most have 10-30).