As the demand for sustainable and high quality produce increases seemingly by the day, you may be surprised to learn that this is also the case when it comes to fine wines. Wine has been produced for several millennium now and the methods by which it is made have inevitably changed quite a bit in that time. As we become more and more concerned with the footprint we are leaving behind, this has caused some producers to strip back their methods and revert to some of the practices you may have found back in the day.
This has all resulted in there emerging three types of eco-friendly wine, each with their own merits and advantages. These are organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines and in the latest instalment of our Journal, we take a look at their nuances and which you should perhaps be considering the next time you add to your wine cellar.
Let’s start with organic wine, as this is the type you will most likely to have come across and see most often. The term organic is in reference to how the wine and its grapes are farmed.
This is wine that has been manufactured using no artificial or chemical fertilisers. Instead, traditional composts are used to enrich the soil in the way that winemakers will have done over the centuries, many believe this results in a better product but is of course more laborious and potentially expensive.
There are also no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides used which can make the cultivation process quite hard work. Sulphites may still be present as this is a natural by-product of wine production, this may also be added as without them wines can become unstable and ultimately, undrinkable.
Sometimes referred to as “natural” wine, sustainable wine is quite hard to define as there is no regulatory body or official certification. So, you may see many bottled labelled as sustainable or natural, but there is no way of guaranteeing this is actually the case. However, this refers to wine that has been produced using techniques that are eco-friendly, this could well be some of the methods used in making organic or biodynamic wine. So it’s quite a broad term really and one that wine experts such as yourselves should be quite wary of.
Ultimately, we see sustainable wine as a product that has been intervention free or as close as possible. Hand-picked grapes, nothing added to the tanks such as concrete eggs and no machine pumping, these are all things that sustainable wine producers are likely to be quite proud of.
Finally, biodynamic wine is basically all about what vineyards do to the grapes. Whereas we discussed about organic farmers not doing certain things, this is all about what they do. The method was introduced around the 1920’s and is centred around the lack of use of chemicals. Instead, natural aids are used which enhance the wine such as soil treatments.
A strict process is used and you can learn more about Rudolph Steiner’s principles here, but the timelines are robust and still practiced today. Some also believe that by producing wine in a biodynamic way, you can express a wine’s true terroir as it is a true reflection of earth’s cycles. This is debated however as there are many fine wines which are made in contrast to these techniques, which could be argued to be the best ever made.
This technique really depends on the region in which is it practiced, as it makes the conditions even more imperative. For example, regions with fewer pests and dryer conditions are likely to yield far better biodynamic wine, for obvious reasons.
If having read this, you have decided you wish to buy some fine organic or biodynamic wine, then ensure you look after your product appropriately. Your fine wines are precious and not storing them optimally could result in your product failing to fulfil its vast potential.
You can find out more about our unique Corsham Cellars here, or call our wine aficionados directly on 01225 818 714.
Alternatively, if you enjoyed this article and simply want to learn more about the fascinating world of fine wine, then be sure to take a look through the rest of our Journal. We have covered a wide range of fascinating topics over the years and our features are designed for wine fanatics of all ages and experience.