If you’re into wine, you’ve likely heard the term ‘natural wine’ thrown around at least a few times. Though for most, the definition still remains a bit hazy. Unfortunately, no set definition of natural wine exists, however, there are a few widely agreed upon viticulture and vinification practices that must be followed for a wine / producer to be dubbed as such. Not sure what we mean? We’re breaking it all down for you here.
What Is Natural Wine?
The short answer is that natural wine is… well, wine made as naturally as possible. This means that fruit is (at minimum) farmed organically, and in the cellar, nothing is added or taken away. Fruit ferments with native yeasts, no additives are used, and the wines are generally bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Are Natural Wine and Organic Wine the Same Thing?
Not exactly. Organic wines simply designate the way in which the fruit has been farmed (and on the more complex side, the amount of sulfites that have been added). For example, in Europe, higher levels of added sulfites are permitted than in American wines. The labelling solution here is that wines made from organically-farmed fruit but use added sulfites in the States are designated as ‘Wine Made with Organic Grapes’ and not ‘Organic Wine.’
On the other hand, natural wine is produced from organically-farmed fruit, though the responsible and low-intervention practices go far beyond the vineyard. It’s sort of like how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares – all natural wines are organic, but not all organic wines are natural.
So, What’s the Difference Between Natural Wine and Organic / Biodynamic / Sustainable Wine?
As mentioned, organic wines are produced from organically-farmed fruit. Biodynamic wines are produced from fruit grown in vineyards that are tended with biodynamic principles, which incorporate using holistic methods, cow manure treatments, and following the lunar calendar. ‘Sustainable’ is a bit of a vague term, in that there really are no regulations around the word sustainable.
Does Natural Wine Come In All Colors and Styles?
Yes! Natural wines are produced in red, white, rosé, and ‘orange’ formats. Natural wines can also be made still or sparkling and are produced all over the dryness / sweetness spectrum.
What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?
As with traditionally made wines, natural wines fall all over the flavor profile spectrum. However, many die-hard fans and wine professionals claim that natural wines taste more alive and energetic than other wines, as they are produced from healthy fruit and vinified without the use of chemicals or additives in the cellar.
Where Is Natural Wine Made?
Natural wine is produced all over the world. In France, this style of winemaking is rather popular in the Loire Valley, Jura, and Languedoc regions.
Who Are Some Great Natural Wine Producers?
Talented producers of natural wine exist all over the world, though here are some of our favorite producers in France:
Domaine de l’Octavin
Le Bout du Monde
La Terrasse d’Elise
Catherine & Pierre Breton
Domaine du Collier
Domaine la Grange Tiphaine
Clos du Tue-Bœuf
Domaine de l’Envol