Organic, biodynamic and natural wines. What’s all the hype about?!

Last week, we had a dedicated class on natural and organic wines. There has been a huge growth in interest in recent times in this category of wines and more become available every day. So what are these and what makes the different?

Organic wines, similar to organic foods, are all about what is happening in the fields. No pesticides are used, no sprays or insecticides of any type. However, organic wines are permitted to have additives once they reach the production stage in the winery. Additives can range from yeasts to encourage fermentation and additional sulphur to stabilisers and other chemicals.

One of the great organic wines we tasted

Biodynamic wines, in many ways are so similar to organic in that they are grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. But the difference here is that everything that is done in the vineyard is done by natural phases of the moon, as would have been practiced by early farmers. Similar to organic wines though, additives can be made to wine once they enter the winery and go into production stages.

Weird and wonderful decanters

Finally, natural wines are the most unmanaged of them all. They follow all of the principles above but the makers attitude is to allow the grapes and nature to do all of the work. Even when the wine is being produced, no interference is made with it, no additives and nothing artificial. What results very often is beautiful, clean tasting wine.One of the advantages to having no added sulfites is that for the most part, it is often allergies to high levels of sulfites that results in a hangover! So for people who think they can’t drink wine, natural wines may be the answer!


Beautiful Verdejo natural wine from Bodegas Menada

We had a live Skype wine tasting all the way from Rueda in Spain with a wine producer who is moving exclusively towards natural wines.


Technology is amazing! Live skype with Bodegas Menada in Rueda

I have become increasing interested in wines and the terroir from which they come. This weekend, I watched the movie “A Year in Burgundy” on Netflix and it was fascinating to hear wine producers from ancient families speak about wine in the same day Ballymaloe speaks about food. One producer proclaimed that  the winemaker and the soil at the soul of the wine. She was so passionate about her wines and how little one should interfere in their life cycle.

She said “we should cut out all herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, pesticides, all icides! They are just like homicide! We need to stop killing things and instead bring life force back to wine” Proving how small scale, ancient wine families often already live by biodynamic and natural methods. It all makes a lot of sense really, maybe natural wines are the next big thing!

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