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Natural wine

Natural wine is a certain ideology of winemakers that originated in the 1960s in the province of Beaujolais, France. Winemakers Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Charly Thevenet and Guy Breton wanted to go back to the methods used before World War II. Natural, organic farming free of all synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and additives was the method in those days and "The Gang of Four", as these four winemakers were sometimes called, encouraged those old methods. Slowly but surely, this ideology extended to more regions of France and finally to the rest of the world.

It can be quite difficult to answer that question, since natural wines are often the source of debates on the definition of the term. Although there is no legal definition of natural wine, there are organizations in countries such as France, Italy, etc. who set their own rules on what counts as natural wines.
They all largely agree that these wines should meet certain conditions:

  • They need to be organically or biodynamically grown.
  • Grapes need to be hand-picked.
  • Purchased, isolated yeast may not be used for fermentation, except in some cases for sparkling wines, where neutral purchased/isolated yeast may be used for the second fermentation.
  • Acid, tannin, sugar, etc. cannot be added
  • Only very small amounts of sulfite can be added, so that the total amount of sulfite does not exceed 50-70 mg/l (many producers do not add any sulphite to their wines).
  • In most cases, natural wines do not undergo filtration or refining except to a small extent.

Natural wines are interesting wines that in many cases offer a different taste experience than "traditional wines". The slogan of many natural wine producers, "nothing added, nothing taken away" indicates that the wines can vary greatly between vintages. Isn't diversity what makes life fun anyway?

Gísli Guðmundsson
wine expert