We thought for long about the best way to start this blog: for us, this is a precious occasion to explain to you all something more about our passion, and we don’t want to lose it writing something ordinary about the extraordinary wines we sell. So, we think there’s no better way than to start from the very beginning: let’s try to answer the big, big question, “what is natural wine and why it is different from Organic and Biodynamic?”.
Natural, organic, biodynamic: a definition issue
We are pretty sure you all know what you eat: during the last years there has been a kind of revolution where more and more people started to ask for more clarity about what is inside the food they are eating and how it is made. This is how organic and biodynamic food started to be more commonly in demand: the producers, to be certified, are required to put all the ingredients on the label. Finally, we know what we are eating.
Even if it seems incredible, this is a bit different for the wine industry, where some parameters are required on the labels, while some others are not. This is why the essential key is the trust between the producer and the consumer, especially when the matter is if the wine is natural or not.
Now, let’s see in detail the differences between these terms to understand something more about the question.
It is considered “Organic Wine” the wine obtained from grapes coming from organic agriculture, therefore grew without the use of pesticides or chemicals in the vineyard; only substances with animal, mineral or vegetal origin can be used in the process. To be able to use the “Organic” certification logo on the bottles, the producers have to pay and be legally certified by the EU authority.
The problem with organic wines is the fact that the certification covers the rules for growing the grapes, but not what happens in the cellar: in the passage from the vineyard to the bottle, around 125 additives and technological manipulations are allowed. Of course, there are many producers who follow the organic rules as well as the natural philosophy, but you have to trust them when they say you are drinking a true natural product.
While it can be confused with the organic wine, since both pay a special attention to the growing of the grapes, the wine coming from biodynamic agriculture follows its own special rules. Biodynamic agriculture was born in the early 20th century thanks to the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who studied the ancient farming ways used by our ancestors. In the holistic vision of biodynamicists, the soil is not just a mean of production, but a true organism part of the world, and it needs to be taken care of. They use totally natural preparations to help the soil be richer and grow better fruits, and they follow the special lunar calendar created by Maria Thun.
Biodynamic is a paid certification as well as Organic, and it is given by an international association founded by Steiner’s followers called Demeter. Biodynamic is often a philosophy before being just a way of wine production and many little producers follow it strictly to give us the result of a true natural product: many natural wines come from biodynamic agriculture. However, once again the trust in the producer is essential.
Now that we wrote down what organic and biodynamic mean, it will be clear why we felt the need for a natural wine definition: year after year, the scientific progress has started to be used to make the wine less and less natural by adding additives and using heavy technological manipulation in the making, and sometimes this is confused with true organic and biodynamic. If we can’t trust even the most apparently natural alternatives, how can we be sure to drink a wine that is a real product and not a manipulated one?
Natural Wine is the answer: at the moment a unique certification is not existing, but generally the wines defined as “natural” follow the rules of organic or biodynamic growing in the vineyards, plus they try to keep the production as traditional as possible in the cellar as well, avoiding additives and manipulation in the process. This, other than keeping the production environment-friendly and free from chemicals and additives (of which we don’t know the possible consequences), gives back to the wine its true taste and unique characteristics coming from that very terrain, weather and grapes.
The importance of the “Natural Wine” definition
To write down a general rule, we can say that some producers can decide to hide part of the ingredients from the labels, but we, as believers in the Natural Wine movement, will make sure it doesn’t happen. This is why the existence of a “Natural Wine” definition in the wine industry is important, despite the detractors and the debate about it: because it means that someone truly passionate about wine checked for you that the product is really natural, from the growth to the bottle, and guarantees for it. It is a matter of responsibility and dependability.
The Organic and Biodynamic definitions we have today on our products were born from the people’s demand for clarity. The Natural Wine movement is now taking its first steps because of producers’ and people’s need for even more clarity. And we are walking with it.