Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

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GregT
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Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#1 Post by GregT » March 25th, 2020, 3:45 pm

https://www.winebusiness.com/news/?go=g ... aId=228237
After 10 years effort, the French wine industry has obtained the right to market wines officially recognized as “natural”. In collaboration with the French Ministry for Agriculture, the French National Institute for Origins and Quality (INAO) and the French Fraud Control Office, the newly created Natural Wines Union, presided by Loire Valley vintner Jacques Carroget, has established a list of criteria and a screening protocol dedicated to this new designation.

The new denomination is defined by a quality production charter and marketed under the term, vin méthode nature.

The category’s production specifications prohibit the use of inputs and winemaking techniques qualified as “brutal,”. . .
And there you are! Now we will officially know what's natural and what isn't. I hope that this stuff has to be coronavirus free.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#2 Post by Steve Costigan » March 25th, 2020, 4:02 pm

I hope tasting good is one of the criteria.

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#3 Post by Mark_Edwards » March 25th, 2020, 4:16 pm

Steve Costigan wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:02 pm
I hope tasting good is one of the criteria.
I say this as someone who drinks almost exclusively wine that could be considered natural...of course it won't.

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#4 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 25th, 2020, 4:50 pm

At least we’ll have an official definition to argue about!
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#5 Post by R. Frankel » March 25th, 2020, 5:25 pm

I actually like this. At least some rules and consistency for this label will make it somewhat comprehensible.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#6 Post by Adam Frisch » March 25th, 2020, 5:30 pm

I approve of this! When will America follow?
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#7 Post by Cris Whetstone » March 25th, 2020, 5:32 pm

I can't wait to have some "brutal" wine.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#8 Post by Jayson Cohen » March 25th, 2020, 5:33 pm

So how long until a French winemaker denied the designation for Reason Whatever labels the denied wine as “Unnatural”?

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#9 Post by Ken Zinns » March 25th, 2020, 5:53 pm

It was inevitable that such a program would be put in place somewhere, and it probably makes sense that it’s being done first in France. At least as noted in the linked article, the winemaking standards don’t seem overly strict, though 30mg/L for total (as opposed to free) sulfites is on the low side. Many wines from low-intervention producers in California would likely meet those standards if a similar program was to be set up here.
Steve Costigan wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:02 pm
I hope tasting good is one of the criteria.
Since that’s a criteria for other wines. 😄
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#10 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 25th, 2020, 5:54 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 5:30 pm
I approve of this! When will America follow?
Hopefully never
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#11 Post by Wes Barton » March 25th, 2020, 6:39 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 5:53 pm
It was inevitable that such a program would be put in place somewhere, and it probably makes sense that it’s being done first in France. At least as noted in the linked article, the winemaking standards don’t seem overly strict, though 30mg/L for total (as opposed to free) sulfites is on the low side. Many wines from low-intervention producers in California would likely meet those standards if a similar program was to be set up here.
Steve Costigan wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:02 pm
I hope tasting good is one of the criteria.
Since that’s a criteria for other wines. 😄
The article actually says:
When it comes to the presence of sulfites, up to 30 mg/l of total H2SO4 is allowed in all types of wine.
Is that a typo? Googling around shows it being a dirty trick to lower pH, and also the product of lowering SO2 by adding hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#12 Post by Ken Zinns » March 25th, 2020, 6:58 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 6:39 pm
Ken Zinns wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 5:53 pm
It was inevitable that such a program would be put in place somewhere, and it probably makes sense that it’s being done first in France. At least as noted in the linked article, the winemaking standards don’t seem overly strict, though 30mg/L for total (as opposed to free) sulfites is on the low side. Many wines from low-intervention producers in California would likely meet those standards if a similar program was to be set up here.
Steve Costigan wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 4:02 pm
I hope tasting good is one of the criteria.
Since that’s a criteria for other wines. 😄
The article actually says:
When it comes to the presence of sulfites, up to 30 mg/l of total H2SO4 is allowed in all types of wine.
Is that a typo? Googling around shows it being a dirty trick to lower pH, and also the product of lowering SO2 by adding hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
Good catch, Wes. Pretty sure it’s a typo or mis-translation but it would be good to clarify.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#13 Post by Kevin Harvey » March 25th, 2020, 7:02 pm

Are the grapes required to be grown organically?
"Natural" wines made with conventionally farmed grapes have always seemed quite dubious to me.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#14 Post by R. Frankel » March 25th, 2020, 7:06 pm

@Kevin - from the article

“ Each brand sporting the label on its bottle has to be produced from hand-picked grapes from certified organic vines and made exclusively with indigenous yeast. The category’s production specifications prohibit the use of inputs and winemaking techniques qualified as “brutal,” such as cross-flow filtration, flash pasteurization, thermovinification and reverse osmosis. When it comes to the presence of sulfites, up to 30 mg/l of total H2SO4 is allowed in all types of wine.”
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#15 Post by Kevin Harvey » March 25th, 2020, 7:09 pm

Thanks Rich. That is good news.
Those requirements would differ from most high-end, conscientious producers primarily in just the amount of so2.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#16 Post by Ian Brand » March 25th, 2020, 7:13 pm

Organically grown, hand picked, endemic yeasts, as I read it. Good progress for the overall industry. Of course, that sulfuric acid addition seems quite high... If that's mg/L total SO2, that's on the low side. It's basically a 35-40 ppm add before bottling, which is where a lot of the current 'natural producers' seem to be settling. We do some work in that range and it's turning out well. though I'm interested to see it in a few years.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#17 Post by Wes Barton » March 25th, 2020, 7:27 pm

Ian Brand wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 7:13 pm
Organically grown, hand picked, endemic yeasts, as I read it. Good progress for the overall industry. Of course, that sulfuric acid addition seems quite high... If that's mg/L total SO2, that's on the low side. It's basically a 35-40 ppm add before bottling, which is where a lot of the current 'natural producers' seem to be settling. We do some work in that range and it's turning out well. though I'm interested to see it in a few years.
*And only European wines.

Yeah, once a set of rules are laid down, we can go back to pointing out how many CA and OR wines meet the criteria, but don't go around calling themselves "natural".
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#18 Post by alan weinberg » March 25th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 5:33 pm
So how long until a French winemaker denied the designation for Reason Whatever labels the denied wine as “Unnatural”?
“antinatural”

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So...

#19 Post by TomHill » March 25th, 2020, 10:24 pm

So....it's not at all clear. If the grapes go across a sorting table, and rotted bunches, leaves, dead mice and snakes are plucked out...can it still be considered "natural". What if they use an optical sorting table? What if they use (plastic) netting to protect against bird damage??
I still like my definition of "natural". If SweetAlice says the wine is "natural", then, by dammed, it's "natural". End of discussion!!
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Re: So...

#20 Post by Otto Forsberg » March 25th, 2020, 11:23 pm

TomHill wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 10:24 pm
So....it's not at all clear. If the grapes go across a sorting table, and rotted bunches, leaves, dead mice and snakes are plucked out...can it still be considered "natural". What if they use an optical sorting table? What if they use (plastic) netting to protect against bird damage??
I still like my definition of "natural". If SweetAlice says the wine is "natural", then, by dammed, it's "natural". End of discussion!!
Tom
But any of these points - made in jest or not - are not manipulating grapes or the must in any way. Basically the idea is to keep hands off from the grapes or the must as much as possible. Nothing wrong in using hi-tech, as long as the wine itself is as unmanipulated as possible. Sorting grapes, removing unwanted material or protecting the grapes from birds is not affecting the grapes or the must in any way. I don't understand what's so difficult in this and why everybody is always making fun of naturalistas using technology with the wine.

If it's just the cognitive dissonance that comes with the term "natural", you're free to come up with a different term that fits better and people are willing to use. I guess "shenanigans wine" doesn't match the criteria.

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Re: So...

#21 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 26th, 2020, 1:38 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 11:23 pm
TomHill wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 10:24 pm
So....it's not at all clear. If the grapes go across a sorting table, and rotted bunches, leaves, dead mice and snakes are plucked out...can it still be considered "natural". What if they use an optical sorting table? What if they use (plastic) netting to protect against bird damage??
I still like my definition of "natural". If SweetAlice says the wine is "natural", then, by dammed, it's "natural". End of discussion!!
Tom
But any of these points - made in jest or not - are not manipulating grapes or the must in any way. Basically the idea is to keep hands off from the grapes or the must as much as possible. Nothing wrong in using hi-tech, as long as the wine itself is as unmanipulated as possible. Sorting grapes, removing unwanted material or protecting the grapes from birds is not affecting the grapes or the must in any way. I don't understand what's so difficult in this and why everybody is always making fun of naturalistas using technology with the wine.

If it's just the cognitive dissonance that comes with the term "natural", you're free to come up with a different term that fits better and people are willing to use. I guess "shenanigans wine" doesn't match the criteria.
Tom has a very long history of making provocative statements that he only somewhat believes. He’s mostly messing with people to sidetrack the discussion.
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Re: So...

#22 Post by Otto Forsberg » March 26th, 2020, 3:04 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 1:38 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 11:23 pm
TomHill wrote:
March 25th, 2020, 10:24 pm
So....it's not at all clear. If the grapes go across a sorting table, and rotted bunches, leaves, dead mice and snakes are plucked out...can it still be considered "natural". What if they use an optical sorting table? What if they use (plastic) netting to protect against bird damage??
I still like my definition of "natural". If SweetAlice says the wine is "natural", then, by dammed, it's "natural". End of discussion!!
Tom
But any of these points - made in jest or not - are not manipulating grapes or the must in any way. Basically the idea is to keep hands off from the grapes or the must as much as possible. Nothing wrong in using hi-tech, as long as the wine itself is as unmanipulated as possible. Sorting grapes, removing unwanted material or protecting the grapes from birds is not affecting the grapes or the must in any way. I don't understand what's so difficult in this and why everybody is always making fun of naturalistas using technology with the wine.

If it's just the cognitive dissonance that comes with the term "natural", you're free to come up with a different term that fits better and people are willing to use. I guess "shenanigans wine" doesn't match the criteria.
Tom has a very long history of making provocative statements that he only somewhat believes. He’s mostly messing with people to sidetrack the discussion.
I've noticed.

However, this is an argument I remember him seeing many times before. Furthermore, my answer was not directed specifically to Tom, but to everybody else thinking of raising the same points again.

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#23 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 26th, 2020, 5:11 am

That won’t stop them or him.

I would like to see the full definition, rather than the press release. Wonder when that will be available.
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Well....

#24 Post by TomHill » March 26th, 2020, 6:19 am

Well, David/Otto...my questions are only partly TFIC. I would argue the netting for birds is a manipulation.
I asked a local distributor of "natural" wines if putting grapes thru a sorting table, where they come in contact with hard plastic or metal tables and peoples hands, was a manipulaton. "No" was his response. Then I asked him if use of an optical sorter was a manipulation? "Of course" he responded. "What's the difference??" No answer. The answer is obvious. Only well-heeled/monied wineries can afford an optical sorter. And we know that those kind of wineries cannot make "natural" wines. It can only be some mustache-Pete farmer in a wool beret and muddy boots who can make a "natural" wine!!
Is there some case-limit of production in which a wine can no longer be considered as "natural "??
I think my questions are legitimate and not just "stir the pot.gif".
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#25 Post by Ken Zinns » March 26th, 2020, 6:56 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 5:11 am
I would like to see the full definition, rather than the press release. Wonder when that will be available.
Yes, there is much that's unsaid or unclear in the press release linked in the OP.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#26 Post by Tom DeBiase » March 26th, 2020, 7:10 am

Good to see this happen and curious what it details. Be prepared to agree and disagree with much of the definition. Really not much different than what defines a "Natural Flavor" in food products. FDA CFR has a definition but not everyone would agree with their interpretation.

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#27 Post by m. ristev » March 26th, 2020, 7:13 am

i bet most people will judge the validity of this designation by who participates and who doesn't. if you don't have benchmark producers like metras or ganevat in the mix i don't think it will be viewed with much credibility amongst the natty cognoscenti. and one of the famous marketing pitches of the 'rock n roll' producers in natural wine is "he is all organic or bio but just doesn't like to mess with the certification."
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Re: Well....

#28 Post by Ian Brand » March 26th, 2020, 8:33 am

TomHill wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 6:19 am
Well, David/Otto...my questions are only partly TFIC. I would argue the netting for birds is a manipulation.
I asked a local distributor of "natural" wines if putting grapes thru a sorting table, where they come in contact with hard plastic or metal tables and peoples hands, was a manipulaton. "No" was his response. Then I asked him if use of an optical sorter was a manipulation? "Of course" he responded. "What's the difference??" No answer. The answer is obvious. Only well-heeled/monied wineries can afford an optical sorter. And we know that those kind of wineries cannot make "natural" wines. It can only be some mustache-Pete farmer in a wool beret and muddy boots who can make a "natural" wine!!
Is there some case-limit of production in which a wine can no longer be considered as "natural "??
I think my questions are legitimate and not just "stir the pot.gif".
Tom
I think this designation will ultimately lead to higher quality of 'natural' wines across the board... some of that has already been happening. I think it will also lead to larger, well-heeled wineries co-opting the movement and the Mustache-Petes at all stages of the industry getting pushed to the wayside. Then a new inscrutable movement will rise to take it's place. Time to get ready for the extraction revolution? Carbonic as a dirty word?
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Yup..

#29 Post by TomHill » March 26th, 2020, 8:51 am

Yup, Ian...pretty much agree with you. There's little doubt that some large producers will attempt to co-op the term. That's why I suggest (only partially facetiously) that there be a case-limit of which you cannot exceed to be a "natural" producer.
Is Ridge a " natural" producer?? Most purists would say "no". They produce too much wine. Yet they adhere to many practices that "natural" producers follow. PaulDraper refers to it as "pre-industrial" winemaking. That's good enough for me.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#30 Post by Chris Seiber » March 26th, 2020, 9:49 am

Critical question -- do we wine snobs start pronouncing it like "naturel" in French?

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#31 Post by JasperMorris » March 26th, 2020, 10:08 am

I'm worried about the H2SO4

"Poor Old Stinky's dead and gone
His face you'll see no more
What he thought was H2O
was H2SO4"

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Re: Well....

#32 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 26th, 2020, 10:09 am

TomHill wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 6:19 am
Well, David/Otto...my questions are only partly TFIC. I would argue the netting for birds is a manipulation.
I asked a local distributor of "natural" wines if putting grapes thru a sorting table, where they come in contact with hard plastic or metal tables and peoples hands, was a manipulaton. "No" was his response. Then I asked him if use of an optical sorter was a manipulation? "Of course" he responded. "What's the difference??" No answer. The answer is obvious. Only well-heeled/monied wineries can afford an optical sorter. And we know that those kind of wineries cannot make "natural" wines. It can only be some mustache-Pete farmer in a wool beret and muddy boots who can make a "natural" wine!!
Is there some case-limit of production in which a wine can no longer be considered as "natural "??
I think my questions are legitimate and not just "stir the pot.gif".
Tom
Your information is anecdotal, and therefore irrelevant.
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Re: Well....

#33 Post by Otto Forsberg » March 26th, 2020, 10:11 am

TomHill wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 6:19 am
Well, David/Otto...my questions are only partly TFIC. I would argue the netting for birds is a manipulation.
I asked a local distributor of "natural" wines if putting grapes thru a sorting table, where they come in contact with hard plastic or metal tables and peoples hands, was a manipulaton. "No" was his response. Then I asked him if use of an optical sorter was a manipulation? "Of course" he responded. "What's the difference??" No answer. The answer is obvious. Only well-heeled/monied wineries can afford an optical sorter. And we know that those kind of wineries cannot make "natural" wines. It can only be some mustache-Pete farmer in a wool beret and muddy boots who can make a "natural" wine!!
Is there some case-limit of production in which a wine can no longer be considered as "natural "??
I think my questions are legitimate and not just "stir the pot.gif".
Tom
I'd love to know how the grapes are manipulated by a netting protecting the grapes from being eaten by animals.

I do find it ridiculous how some producers say that a huge producer can't make a natural wine. If there ever is a Meiomi Natural Wine which is made with hand-harvested grapes, fermented without yeast inoculations or YAN, vinified without or with minimal sulfites and bottled without fining and filtration, I'd be totally OK to call it natural wine.

Tangentially related: I found it weird when in a tasting one attendee considered a wine aged in a concrete egg vessel as not natural wine. When I questioned her what was her reasoning, she said that the wine is constantly manipulated when the lees are in constant motion during the fermentation is such vessels, making the wines nothing like real, unmanipulated natural wines. [scratch.gif]

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#34 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 26th, 2020, 10:17 am

Otto,

It all goes back to the real definition:

Natural wine: what I make
Not natural wine: what you make
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#35 Post by Anton D » March 26th, 2020, 10:25 am

I'm looking at this development with gratitude.

It's like nature putting a stripe on skunks, or a rattle at the end of a snake...it's my warning to stay away.

I find this designation of wine to be an affectation.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#36 Post by Ian Brand » March 26th, 2020, 10:55 am

Tom has requested that someone write a eulogy for the small producers.
Maybe sung to the tune of ‘Candle in the Wind’?
Goodbye Mustache Pete...
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Re: Well....

#37 Post by Jayson Cohen » March 26th, 2020, 11:42 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 10:11 am
TomHill wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 6:19 am
Well, David/Otto...my questions are only partly TFIC. I would argue the netting for birds is a manipulation.
I asked a local distributor of "natural" wines if putting grapes thru a sorting table, where they come in contact with hard plastic or metal tables and peoples hands, was a manipulaton. "No" was his response. Then I asked him if use of an optical sorter was a manipulation? "Of course" he responded. "What's the difference??" No answer. The answer is obvious. Only well-heeled/monied wineries can afford an optical sorter. And we know that those kind of wineries cannot make "natural" wines. It can only be some mustache-Pete farmer in a wool beret and muddy boots who can make a "natural" wine!!
Is there some case-limit of production in which a wine can no longer be considered as "natural "??
I think my questions are legitimate and not just "stir the pot.gif".
Tom
I'd love to know how the grapes are manipulated by a netting protecting the grapes from being eaten by animals.
I agree but have also heard this argument made. I would put it in the same category as canopy management, green harvest, and fires to prevent freezing or frost damage (can you use chemical fire or then we are getting toward the line for some folks?).

I also can’t see why an optical or automated sorting table is different than hand selection - that seems like purely philosophical nonsense. This, and outrage over and a complete ban on machine harvesting, is where I have the hardest time understanding the arbitrariness of the line some would draw.

BTW I searched for the clearly defined compete rules and metrics for the new designation and didn’t find them. Did anyone else?

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#38 Post by GregT » March 26th, 2020, 11:56 am

Jayson - I have a link below.
Anton D wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 10:25 am
I'm looking at this development with gratitude.

It's like nature putting a stripe on skunks, or a rattle at the end of a snake...it's my warning to stay away.

I find this designation of wine to be an affectation.
[rofl.gif]

So here's a slight clarification:
Up to 30 mg/l of sulfites are allowed in all types of wine. To differentiate between natural wines that contain sulfites and those that are sulphite-free, two logos have been created indicating whether or not the product contains sulfites.

Every year an external entity will control the bottled wine applying for the designation. If the wine has not conformed to the regulations, it has to be marketed as a different brand so as not to mislead consumers.
https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2020/ ... ural-wine/

There are two versions of the logo - one that says: “without added sulfites” if the wine contains less than 10 mg/L, and one that says: “lower than 30 mg sulfites.”

No sulfites before or during fermentation.

Here's their charter, if your French is decent:

http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/wp-conte ... 80%99l.pdf

The layout and design of the "charter" is interesting.

I think the obsession with sulfur is kind of a red herring. The Romans may or may not have used it - we don't really know. But we do know that it was used at least since the late middle ages because there are documents referring to it. And it was used by the French in N. Africa because when phylloxera hit, a lot of wine makers headed down there and sulfur was very useful in places that were hotter than some of the French were used to. At that point, the French just wanted wine and there was little stigma attached to drinking wine that was good rather than wine that conformed to some value system. And they believed that a little sulfur helps protect a wine during shipping, which hasn't changed.

What's interesting is that they don't talk much about the growing of the grapes, other than to say that they must be organic. But trellising, green harvesting, leaf-pulling, etc., are all allowed. Not to mention grafted vines and monoclonal viticulture. Selecting rootstock that provides more or less vigor to the scion is OK?

Not sure about hand-harvesting either. Who's to say that in a short time we won't have machinery to do it as well or better than humans? We can have drones deliver packages, why not harvest grapes? Technology moves pretty quickly and there's no reason to imagine that it won't improve to that point in the near future. Finally, they don't seem to have a problem with refrigeration or temperature-controlled maceration and fermentation.

I don't really care what these guys do or what they want to call themselves. The problem with these kinds of things though is that they seem to cast the world in binary terms and they intentionally mislead people. The other day (before the lockdown) I was at a table and this woman sitting next to me said that she wanted to learn about wine and had heard about this "natural wine" thing. She got some from a nearby shop and explained it all to me. The sales clerk at the shop had said that it was wine the way it used to be made centuries ago and the producer was going back to that.

She was excited because she had at home a wine that was like the wine they'd been drinking in the Middle Ages. And then she went on a bit about fermenting different foods and making sauerkraut and kim chee. We agreed to get together and I'd help her wine education and she'd help me with the sauerkraut, since I keep failing there. I did leave her with a slight suspicion that maybe her wine wasn't exactly what the Capets were drinking.

I think just like AFWE became a badge of honor, I'm going to have some "brutal" wine tonight! Cheers Chris!
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Re: Well....

#39 Post by Wes Barton » March 26th, 2020, 12:38 pm

Otto Forsberg wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 10:11 am
Tangentially related: I found it weird when in a tasting one attendee considered a wine aged in a concrete egg vessel as not natural wine. When I questioned her what was her reasoning, she said that the wine is constantly manipulated when the lees are in constant motion during the fermentation is such vessels, making the wines nothing like real, unmanipulated natural wines. [scratch.gif]
[rofl.gif]

One could make a better argument that the typical fermenters with unnaturally shaped right angles at the bottom inhibit the natural circulations that result from the natural biochemical fermentation process. Something like the broad, shallow, squared dimensions of a macrobin would have to be about the least natural choice for the process to occur in.
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Re: Well....

#40 Post by Wes Barton » March 26th, 2020, 1:03 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 11:42 am
I also can’t see why an optical or automated sorting table is different than hand selection - that seems like purely philosophical nonsense.
It might be philosophical nonsense, but in practicality those are often used to select for a very narrow ripeness range. It's used to push ripeness and make those plush, uber-ripe, culty wines.
This, and outrage over and a complete ban on machine harvesting, is where I have the hardest time understanding the arbitrariness of the line some would draw.
Soil compacting, polluting, clumsy, lowered quality. They necessitate the grower conform training to their use, which can compromise potential quality. One of growers had one of the better rated machine harvesters as an option for some of his sites. He charged less for grapes harvested that we. We tried it with one pick. Lots more MOG and bad grapes to sort out, so extra work on our end. Rupturing of grapes caused some oxidation, and that wine wasn't as good as normal. Basically, if you're going to go all natural in the winery, you don't want to start with the sort of shitty grapes that are asking for extra intervention to minimize the quality loss.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#41 Post by Wes Barton » March 26th, 2020, 1:12 pm

GregT wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 11:56 am
...sauerkraut, since I keep failing there.


Link isn't showing. Just search "mason jar vacuum sealer" on Amazon.
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Re: Well....

#42 Post by R. Frankel » March 26th, 2020, 1:20 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 1:03 pm
Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 11:42 am
I also can’t see why an optical or automated sorting table is different than hand selection - that seems like purely philosophical nonsense.
It might be philosophical nonsense, but in practicality those are often used to select for a very narrow ripeness range. It's used to push ripeness and make those plush, uber-ripe, culty wines.
This, and outrage over and a complete ban on machine harvesting, is where I have the hardest time understanding the arbitrariness of the line some would draw.
Soil compacting, polluting, clumsy, lowered quality. They necessitate the grower conform training to their use, which can compromise potential quality. One of growers had one of the better rated machine harvesters as an option for some of his sites. He charged less for grapes harvested that we. We tried it with one pick. Lots more MOG and bad grapes to sort out, so extra work on our end. Rupturing of grapes caused some oxidation, and that wine wasn't as good as normal. Basically, if you're going to go all natural in the winery, you don't want to start with the sort of shitty grapes that are asking for extra intervention to minimize the quality loss.
Thanks Wes, this is helpful. The problems with machine harvesting - especially pollution and soil compaction - make sense to ban for wines that are supposed to be natural. But I don’t see how narrow selection (allowed by optical sorters) is more natural. Seems like any choice other than ‘use it all, dead mice included’ isn’t t natural. Who’s to decide which is more natural than another. What if I made the same narrow selection choice by hand? I don’t see how using a machine for a task (how about bottling? Corking?) is unnatural if it doesn’t changed the ecosystem of the wine.

Some really interesting philosophical question about quality though. How much is too much? What is natural quality? Who decides?
Rich Frankel

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Re: Well....

#43 Post by Jayson Cohen » March 26th, 2020, 1:30 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 1:03 pm
Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 11:42 am
I also can’t see why an optical or automated sorting table is different than hand selection - that seems like purely philosophical nonsense.
It might be philosophical nonsense, but in practicality those are often used to select for a very narrow ripeness range. It's used to push ripeness and make those plush, uber-ripe, culty wines.
This, and outrage over and a complete ban on machine harvesting, is where I have the hardest time understanding the arbitrariness of the line some would draw.
Soil compacting, polluting, clumsy, lowered quality. They necessitate the grower conform training to their use, which can compromise potential quality. One of growers had one of the better rated machine harvesters as an option for some of his sites. He charged less for grapes harvested that we. We tried it with one pick. Lots more MOG and bad grapes to sort out, so extra work on our end. Rupturing of grapes caused some oxidation, and that wine wasn't as good as normal. Basically, if you're going to go all natural in the winery, you don't want to start with the sort of shitty grapes that are asking for extra intervention to minimize the quality loss.
I hear you and don’t disagree.

There is, no doubt, an effect of using machine harvesting. And a different environmental impact. I’m not advocating its use. (Grape growing is inherently inconsistent with biodiversity in my view and not much different than any crop in terms of ecological effect.) But I’ve always thought machine harvesting doesn’t truly fit into what some see as the basic definition of natural wine (not me - I don’t have a personal definition or predisposition, even if I try to be environmentally conscious) as nothing added, nothing taken out. It’s just worse for the environment than hand picking and leads to the problems with the grapes that you identified.

On optical sorting and narrow ripeness range, that’s not different, except maybe as a matter of degree/precision, from picking different vines at the different times depending on ripening or sorting by subplots and vinifying them separately or deciding to use or not use shot grapes or crop thinning / green harvesting initially. I just have a hard time with that level of nitpicking as to what meets a certain philosophy of being “natural”. This new designation doesn’t seem to prevent the use of the majority of modern technology as far as I understand. I haven’t seen that it would preclude optics-based sorting.

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#44 Post by Ken Zinns » March 26th, 2020, 2:23 pm

GregT wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 11:56 am
Jayson - I have a link below.
Anton D wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 10:25 am
I'm looking at this development with gratitude.

It's like nature putting a stripe on skunks, or a rattle at the end of a snake...it's my warning to stay away.

I find this designation of wine to be an affectation.
[rofl.gif]

So here's a slight clarification:
Up to 30 mg/l of sulfites are allowed in all types of wine. To differentiate between natural wines that contain sulfites and those that are sulphite-free, two logos have been created indicating whether or not the product contains sulfites.

Every year an external entity will control the bottled wine applying for the designation. If the wine has not conformed to the regulations, it has to be marketed as a different brand so as not to mislead consumers.
https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2020/ ... ural-wine/

There are two versions of the logo - one that says: “without added sulfites” if the wine contains less than 10 mg/L, and one that says: “lower than 30 mg sulfites.”

No sulfites before or during fermentation.

Here's their charter, if your French is decent:

http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/wp-conte ... 80%99l.pdf

The layout and design of the "charter" is interesting.
Thanks for the additional links, Greg.

Here's my (no doubt poor) translation of the vineyard and winery regulations from the original French document:

Fruit from certified organically-farmed vineyards only.
Fruit must be manually harvested.
The wines must be vinified only with indigenous yeasts.
No winemaking additions are permitted.
No use of "brutal and traumatic physical techniques" (reverse osmosis, filtration, tangential [crossflow] filtration, flash pasteurization, thermovinification ...)
No added sulfites before or during fermentation, with a maximum 30mg/L added sulfites.

That's essentially it. And how odd that it does show "H2SO4" in the original French document when it means SO2 - amazing that they didn't catch that error.

It's a very loose set of regulations and the list of non-compliant winemaking techniques is extremely short and vague. By "filtration" I'd assume they mean sterile filtration only, but it doesn't seem explicit about that - and then why specifically mention crossflow (but not plate-and-frame, etc.)? Perhaps the term "filtration" in France refers only to sterile filtration? I don't know, perhaps someone else here on the board can clarify that. There are lots of unlisted techniques that could be included in the "..." of that particular regulation - are we supposed to guess what's permitted and what's not?

I realize that natural wine has had a fairly vague definition all along, and it seems like most vintners making wines that most would consider to be in that category are fine with that. But then the whole idea of having the official "vin méthode nature" designation based on such a vague set of regulations seems like it loses much of its potential value, and leaves it open to abuse.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#45 Post by Wes Barton » March 26th, 2020, 2:38 pm

Some of the voices we heard early, when the natural wine movement really got booming, such as Alice Feiring, were really focused on the expression of the wines. That's what brought her to these wines, as well as other wines that express like a natural product. It's an aesthetic. The wines taste natural, not like some product. So, not just new oak was verboten, but overt ripeness. Aesthetically, use of an isolated yeast will usually make a less complex wine. The appeal of uniform ripeness is textural elegance at the cost of complexity. The consumer base of these wines want wines that express as natural, not as "wine-like product".

Note that Feiring has been writing about (badly) flawed wines not being acceptable.

We saw a decade or so ago that a lot of French producers at that time counted their wines natural solely based on what happened once the grapes got to the winery. They weren't using organic grapes, or grapes that should be allowed to be called organic, anyway. We saw a light bulb moment. Language since then from the movement seems to always be stressing organic grapes.

The other important aspects are the healthfulness of the wines and minimizing environmental impacts.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#46 Post by Ken Zinns » March 26th, 2020, 2:50 pm

It’s worth noting that I attended a tasting of natural wines early this month (WINeFare - I posted notes on the board) and the overall quality of the wines was quite high. Very few with the type of wine faults that many complain about with natural wines and even those were more borderline than egregious. Certainly the best tasting of natural wines that I’ve been to, with some real standout bottlings.
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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#47 Post by Jayson Cohen » March 26th, 2020, 2:56 pm

Thanks for the translation.

So it looks the following is ok:
- any vineyard technique pre-harvest that qualifies as organic
- sorting methods that are not brutal and traumatic
- cellar- or vessel-based temperature control during vinification (?)

Some (obvious?) questions to which there may already be answers:

Are oaks chips a winemaking addition? What about use of highly toasted barrels?

What about added enzymes? I understand from this they should be excluded but I also understand from hearing first hand stories that sometimes an AOC inspector will require them. Will winemakers potentially have to choose between AOC or the vin naturel designation?

What is the view on bottling lines or trucks that use various pumping methods? Can they be or are they brutal and traumatic?

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Re: Natural wine - now an officially recognized designation in France

#48 Post by Ken Zinns » March 26th, 2020, 3:15 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 2:56 pm
Thanks for the translation.

So it looks the following is ok:
- any vineyard technique pre-harvest that qualifies as organic
- sorting methods that are not brutal and traumatic
- cellar- or vessel-based temperature control during vinification (?)

Some (obvious?) questions to which there may already be answers:

Are oaks chips a winemaking addition? What about use of highly toasted barrels?

What about added enzymes? I understand from this they should be excluded but I also understand from hearing first hand stories that sometimes an AOC inspector will require them. Will winemakers potentially have to choose between AOC or the vin naturel designation?

What is the view on bottling lines or trucks that use various pumping methods? Can they be or are they brutal and traumatic?
Some good questions. Correct that temperature-controlled fermentations are not specifically addressed, nor is the use of pumps in general or type of pumps in particular. I'd guess that oak chips might not be permitted, but the types of vessels used for fermentation and aging aren't mentioned at all so I suppose anything goes. Natural wine in 200% new American oak barrels! Not that I think fermentation and aging vessels really need to be part of the regulations for this though.

Enzyme additions would certainly be excluded. Some French vintners already choose between conforming with AOC regulations and making wines the way they want to, forgoing the AOC designation in favor of VDP or even VDF.
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Oyyyyyy...

#49 Post by TomHill » March 26th, 2020, 5:47 pm

Oy... would these be a good time to raise the issue of SO2 additions must be made from "natural" Sulfer harvested from natural volcanoes vs. SO2 that comes as a byproduct of the PetroChemical industry?? Nawh... it'd only muddy the waters!!
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Re: Well....

#50 Post by Doug Schulman » March 27th, 2020, 2:45 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:
March 26th, 2020, 1:30 pm
On optical sorting and narrow ripeness range, that’s not different, except maybe as a matter of degree/precision, from picking different vines at the different times depending on ripening or sorting by subplots and vinifying them separately or deciding to use or not use shot grapes or crop thinning / green harvesting initially. I just have a hard time with that level of nitpicking as to what meets a certain philosophy of being “natural”. This new designation doesn’t seem to prevent the use of the majority of modern technology as far as I understand. I haven’t seen that it would preclude optics-based sorting.
So, I think the whole "natural" wine thing is silly, but optical sorting is different than hand sorting and the other methods you mentioned. It's more selective than humans could be. Have you seen these machines in action? They exclude grapes that look just like some of the included grapes to the naked eye. One winemaker who showed me his at work said his crew sometimes sorts through the reject bins and puts some of the grapes back in because they seem fine. Producers can and do use these things to select such a narrow range of ripeness and "perfection" that the wines are not the same as what could be done by humans, even with as much care and time as possible.

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