Four things about natural wines to start you thinking

I spoke to That Crazy French Woman  Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron about natural wines before I visited her brainchild, the RAW wine fair.

Isabelle told me about wine additives (read here) – but she shared more facts to make you think a little bit more about natural wines:

Isabelle Legeron, and the RAW wine fair team Credit Tom Moggach
Isabelle Legeron, and the RAW wine fair team Credit Tom Moggach

Think About It

If a wine label says grapes are organically grown, it doesn’t necessarily mean grapes are treated organically once they’re picked.

Isabelle: In 2012 the EU now has declared what is an organic wine, but the legislation is so lax.

Says Isabelle … It’s really meant for the big wineries to be able to call themselves organic but you can still add loads of sulphites, yeasts and dozens of additives.

The term organic wine really protects you in terms of the production of the grapes, but it doesn’t really mean much in terms of how the wine is made once it enters the winery.

Think About It

Biodynamic wine covers the entire  production of wine … from the farming to the winery. It is stricter than organic in terms of what winemakers can use.  It is based on a series of beliefs outlined by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s.

Isabelle: Biodynamic winemakers  use the moon’s influence over a body of water.

Says Isabelle … The tide is influenced by the moon. The vines, the grapes, are mostly water, so the moon will have the same influence on the water inside the vines. It’s the same in a glass of wine.

Everything around you, even your body is being influenced by where the moon is.  So it’s just about using this knowledge to your best advantage.

Here’s a  simple example with a barrel of wine. When the moon is in a certain position the deposits are all tight and quiet and nothing is happening. If the moon is in a different position the sediments might all be floating because of gravity. So you would only want to bottle really when everything is settling down quietly, so you don’t have all this stuff floating around.

Biodynamics is also abut spraying with tea preparations; it’s about promoting the life in the soil; it’s about trying to be more sustainable; having your own cows for manure and so on.

Think About It

Do sulphites in wines give people headaches?

Isabelle: Much of this is anecdotal. There is research that shows that wine with elevated levels of sulphites means that you don’t digest the alcohol so well, it stays in your body for longer, it imbibes your body more.

Says Isabelle … Loads of people have come to me and said “I can’t drink wine” then they have tried to drink completely sulphite free wine and natural wine and actually they find they can drink it.

They’re not getting their symptoms; most complain about skin rashes so when they drink loads of sulphites they get red patches and perhaps palputations.

Think About It

We can’t keep on farming like this.

Isabelle: It’s one of the things which keeps me going. We have to do something  and stop having so many casualties.

Says Isabelle … The countryside in France and Italy is full of people who have got really sick from working in the vineyards. It’s a quite toxic industry. There’s loads of pollution … and there are even pesticide residues in your bottle.

There’s been lots of studies on it where random bottles have been selected from supermarkets and checked.

Pesticides are in the grapes, so of course it will be in the wine.

A final word

Isabelle: We need to get people to drink a bit less but maybe spend a bit more per bottle, its really worth it. I only ever drink natural wine; I only ever work with natural wine.
I won’t even taste anything else.