Organic Natural Wine – What does it mean?

By Duncan Harris ” WINE, ALL OF ITSELF – Organic Natural Wine.

He is an Australian natural wine specialist and is quietly surprised how natural wine has become such a hot topic of conversation among many a wine aficionado’s.

Natural Wine Definition

What is Natural Wine?

The definition of natural wine seems as plastic as there are vintner’s making it. Duncan would like to state for the record that his philosophy of Natural Wine is an organic wine.

A wine that begins in an ideal vineyard, is always hand-picked, gently pressed, fermented with natural yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, aged and sealed preferably with cork.

The wine should be stable and not liable to spoil. Therefore, a scientific approach to the basic chemistries of winemaking needs to adhere to.

The electrical energy used should be sustainably sourced also. Ideally, he recommends all the free solar energy that vintners have at their disposal during vintage should be harnessed with photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Swan Valley Natural Wine maker
Swan Valley Natural Winemaker – Duncan Harris

Natural Wine specifications

1. The Vineyard – must be not irrigated. This means that the fruit does not uptake artificial moisture from dammed water or underground water. This means that the water is sourced by the (quite resourceful) vines – making for high-quality fruit.

The vines are hand-pruned and dressed, de-leafing is carried out to reduce fungicide spraying and the fruit is hand-picked when the sugar level is optimal for good wine-making.

2. Natural dessert wine fruit should be picked late in the season and very high in sugar. It is crushed before ferment starts.

Fermentation via natural yeasts (another gift from the Gods of wine). Thereafter, the must is pressed by any means practicable. Duncan uses a basket press, to extract the partially fermented juice.

3. The wine should be unfined and unfiltered. There is a saying,” Good wine falls bright”.

This means very little to no sediment most of which can be avoided by age settling prior to bottling and decanting after opening on the part of the consumer. Any protein haze is a natural part of the process of maturation.

4. The still wine should be sealed with cork as it is a naturally sustainable product.  Cork is a renewable resource and uses 1/2 the electricity to produce, and hence half the CO2 than alternatives like aluminium. Unfortunately, electrical energy is cheap and aluminium screw caps are about half the price of corks. Pet Nat and Sparkling wines may have a crown seal. They keep longer.

What are the differences between organic wine and natural wine?

Organic wine and natural wine are two distinct categories within the wine industry that focus on sustainable and minimal intervention practices, but they have some fundamental differences.

Organic wine refers to the production method that follows organic farming principles, ensuring that the grapes are cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. It primarily focuses on the grape-growing process and restricts the use of certain additives during winemaking.

On the other hand, natural wine takes organic practices a step further, emphasizing minimal intervention in both grape-growing and winemaking.

Natural wine producers prioritize using organic or biodynamic farming methods, but they go beyond that by implementing spontaneous fermentation, avoiding additives or manipulations, and using minimal or no sulphites during the winemaking process.

Natural wine often embraces a more hands-off approach, allowing the wine to express itself more freely, resulting in unique and sometimes unpredictable flavours and characteristics.

While both organic and natural wines share a commitment to sustainability, natural wine tends to push the boundaries of conventional winemaking practices by embracing a more holistic and non-interventionist philosophy.

Indeed, an important distinction between organic wine and natural wine is that natural wine does not necessarily have to be made from organic grapes.

While organic wine strictly requires the use of organically grown grapes, natural wine places a greater emphasis on minimal intervention in the winemaking process itself.

This means that natural wine can be produced from grapes that are conventionally grown or even from vineyards that are not certified organic.

However, it is worth noting that many natural wine producers do prioritize organic farming methods as part of their overall commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness.

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine?

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine? ABC natural wine article

In conclusion, organic natural wines are better for you and the environment. Enjoy organic wine in moderation.