Wednesday 9 February 2011

natural wine

Fellow blogger Graham got me thinking about natural wine in his informative post last month. In wine terms, natural means no additives, including sulphur dioxide.

SO2 is a both a disinfectant (anti-microbial) and a preservative in that it prevents a wine from oxidation. It has been used in winemaking since Roman times - probably before - but thanks to labelling laws, consumers are now aware that wine does contain added 'sulfites'. While sulphur levels in wine are controlled and not harmful to health (except possibly severe asthmatics), there is a significant body of people who prefer their food and drink with as little additive as possible. Hence the demand for natural, no added sulphur wine.

Not just any old wine can be successfully made without sulphur. It needs to be made from healthy, rot-free grapes. Hygiene throughout the winemaking process is critical and the use of inert gas to protect the wine at all stages, including bottling is important. Sterile filtration before bottling to remove yeasts and bacteria minimises the chance of refermentation and microbial spoilage in bottle.

I tasted two 'no sulphur' wines at Millisime Bio last month. The first one from Domaine de Mayrac near Couiza and the second from Domaine Allegria, near Pezenas. Both smelt nice and had attractive fruit-forward flavours and were for early drinking. Both also had earthy/grubby flavours on the finish which detracted slightly from overall quality. But they were basically attractve, fruity wines. The people at Allegria only sell their sulphur free wine cellar door where they can explain that it should be consumed soon and not cellared. 'We would never export this wine, as we could not guarantee the stability'.

Apologies for the sideways photo. I rotated it in iPhoto but it has fallen over again in the blog. Cute label though!


  1. Would love to see more news from your area. Great site!


  2. The very first a single from Domaine de Mayrac close to Couiza as properly as the next from Domaine Allegria
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