What's natural wine?

What an adventure for natural wine! After 70 years of the wine world being lost in synthetic chemistry, people are fighting to find coherence and harmony with their environment in the way they make and consume wine. Natural winemakers are few in numbers, yet they are the ones everyone is talking about. They are avante-garde pioneers, who are drawing the landscape for the prominent viticulture of tomorrow.
What's natural wine?

Natural wine is wine made with just grapes, and sometimes a little bit of sulfur (no more than 30 mg/L for reds and 40 mg/L for whites). While they are often certified or practicing organic and/or biodynamic farming in the vineyards, these wines go beyond any certification standards in the cellar, resulting in wines that truly represent the taste of fermented fruit. These are wines that highlight the work of the winemaker, not a factory.

At this decisive time as our planet faces climate change, our relationship with the world around us and moving to sustainable agriculture is critical. In France, one of the world's largest wine producers, 30% of pesticides are concentrated into only 3% of the agricultural surface. Conversely, producing natural wine benefits the ecosystem in a humanistic way. The natural wine app aims to support these gardeners of the vines (aka winemakers), and allow them to be paid off for their hard, honest work. Meanwhile, the average price of a bottle of wine in Europe was 1.7€ in 2017 (and increases up to 10€ for importing countries). Such low prices imply the use of mass production methods, which do not respect the environment, and do not provide the necessary means for producers. If tomorrow the vineyards were made of up winemakers all working in this eco-friendly fashion, it would create a world of difference with beautiful biodiversity and a balance in our environment.

THE VARIOUS ASSOCIATIONS AND THE NATURAL WINE UNION

There are a multitude of associations and organizations around the world who work to provide the framework for a better understanding of what natural wine really is. While the requirements on different criteria may vary, the commonality is that they want to help consumers IDENTIFY WHAT IS NOT NATURAL WINE. All these approaches converge towards a better idea of how a wine is made, whether in the vineyard or in the cellar. Below is a list of the main organizations that exist to date:

➜ Syndicate for the Defense of Natural Wine

Vin Méthode Nature is the name of the first label dedicated to natural wine. Their goal is to provide a more concrete guarantees to consumers, (for example) by conducting random control procedures. The presence of 2 different logos on the back label makes it possible to identify if it is a natural wine (without added sulfur) or a natural wine (with a volume of sulfur lower than 30mg/L in total). The specifications:

Syndicat de Défense du Vin Naturel

  • 100% of the grapes come from organic agriculture (Nature & Progrès, AB or 2nd year of conversion)
  • Manual harvesting
  • Indigenous yeasts
  • No other inputs
  • No voluntary modification of the grape's constitution
  • No brutal techniques
  • No sulfites added before and during fermentation (possibility of adjusting the order SO2 < 30mg/l total H2SO4 before bottling, with a dedicated label)
  • Non "Vin Méthode Nature" vintages must be clearly identified (with different labeling).

The Vin Méthode Nature label differentiates between 2 distinct approaches:

  • 1 - Vin Méthode Nature: label with no added sulfites (the grapes produces them naturally)
  • 2 - Vin Méthode Nature < 30mg/L total sulfites

Number of member winemakers : 200 - September 2021.

➜ VinNatur

This Italian association is a collection of more than 170 producers from 10 different countries, each with their own unique story but with a common goal: to produce natural wine.

Syndicat de Défense du Vin Naturel
Prohibited in the vineyard:

  • Mineral, organic-mineral and synthetic chemical fertilizers
  • Chemical weed killers or drying products the use of synthetic, systemic and cytropic antiparasitics, not authorized in organic agriculture
  • The use of phosphites
  • The use of chemical insecticides
  • Mechanical harvesting
  • The cultivation of Cisgenic and GMO grapes, or the use of products derived from GMOs

Prohibited in the cellar:

  • Clarification using products with albumin, casein, bentonite or charcoal-based or pectic enzymes
  • The use of selected commercial yeasts (even if EU regulations allow it for organic wine), enzymes, lysozymes and lactic acid bacteria
  • The use of any foreign additives, excluding sulfur dioxide
  • Bottled wine must not contain more than 50 mg/liter of sulphur dioxide for white, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines, and no more than 30 mg/liter for reds.
  • Invasive practices that alter the intrinsic characteristics of the wine and modify the vinification process, for example: dealcoholization, heat treatment above 30°C, reverse osmosis, acidification, deacidification, electrodialysis, use of cation exchangers, elimination of sulfur dioxide by physical proccesses, deaeration, etc.

Number of member winegrowers: 170

➜ The Natural Wine Association (AVN):

The charter has evolved over the years, and now does not accept any inputs or additives. Here are the main elements of their specifications:

The Natural Wine Association

  • A wine whose grapes come from organic or biodynamic agriculture
  • A wine that is vinified and bottled without any input or additive.
  • Manual harvesting
  • Pasteurization is forbidden.
  • Enzymes are forbidden, regardless of their oenological use.
  • No chaptalization
  • Native yeasts only
  • No use of S02 (Analyses = 10mg/L maximum)
  • No tartaric stabilization
  • No fining
  • No filtration

Number of member winegrowers: not provided

➜ Les vins S.A.I.N.S.

The winemakers of the Association des Vins S.A.I.N.S. produce healthy, living wines (without inputs or added sulfites) across 100% of the winemaking process. The main elements of their criteria include:

 

  • Vineyards are free of all synthetic and molecular chemicals.
  • Manual harvest
  • In the cellar: natural fermentation which occurs only by the action of yeasts and indigenous bacteria.
  • A winemaker from the association adapts to the seasons and matures his wines without using laboratory products or technologies aimed to accelerate the stability or modification of the juices (at any time during the various fermentation and bottling processes).
  • Sulphites and other oenological inputs are prohibited.

Number of member winegrowers: not provided

Yeasts and additives authorized in wine

A natural wine is made only with grapes and sometimes a little bit of sulfur, in the respect of nature and the people behind it. Often organic and / or biodynamic in the vineyard, it goes beyond current certifications in the winemaking phase to restore the taste of the fermented fruit. A wine is above all a winemaker, not a factory

natural wine: levels of sulfites and additives authorized in wine.

HOW DOES Raisin IDENTIFY NATURAL WINES AND WINEMAKERS?

Our intention:

Since its creation, Raisin has aimed to make the natural wine world more easily accessible and understandable for everyone. To do so, the app shows our users where they can find this type of wine. With the new label scanning feature, we are taking it a step further to offer transparency as to how your wine is made. Imagine going into an establishment, scanning a label, and being confident that the wine in your glass is one that is purely fermented grapes! This feature is not intended to replace the expertise of a sommelier or a wine merchant, rather to serve as a complementary and practical tool.

What are our criteria for validation?

Raisin desires to embrace the natural wine movement in all its diversity, which of course includes its rebellious side that rejects any fixed definition. However, our team is loyal to certain criteria that we have borrowed from the Association of Natural Wine’s Cahier des charges (AVN) original charter, and this is something that we promise to our users! The wines we validate must be made without pesticides or the use of additives, with the exception of the occasional small amount of sulfur added (30 mg/L for reds and 40 mg/L for whites maximum). Therefore, we validate wines based on the work done by the winemakers themselves, because that’s what it all comes down to! For a winemaker to be considered natural on Raisin, 50% of the wine they produce must fit this natural philosophy.

How can we distinguish between different wines? (scanning feature)

Scan étiquettes de vins

With our title being “the natural wine app,” our goal is to create a complete list of all wines produced naturally, with as much detail as possible regarding how they were crafted, and the artisans who made them. On the other hand, we have no interest in listing all of the conventional wines out there, nor those that are already certified (AB, Ecocert, Demeter, Biodyvin, etc).
Instead, we strive to highlight true initiatives for natural winemaking, and avoid any confusion from deceiving advertisement on labels. So with the label scanner, wine search features, and rich database of winemakers, we aim to guarantee those that you can trust.

Instead, we strive to highlight true initiatives for natural winemaking, and avoid any confusion from deceiving advertisement on labels. That is why each wine posted on Raisin is reviewed according to these three categories:

Scan your label to find out if your wine is natural, organic and/or biodynamic

natural wine WINE MADE BY A NATURAL WINEMAKER: made only with grapes and sometimes a little sulfites, in the respect of the Nature and the Men.
organic wine THIS WINE IS ORGANIC AND/OR BIODYNAMIC: which has one of these certifications, but is not vinified in a natural way.
not natural wine IS NOT MADE BY A NATURAL WINEMAKER: could be confused with the work of a natural winemaker, produced conventionally.
doubtful wine NOT SURE ABOUT THIS WINE...: without the necessary information about this winemaker, we are not in a position to categorize.
minimal doses of sulphur in natural wine
Natural winemaker?

We consider a winemaker is natural if at least 50% of their wines are made with grapes only, and sometimes minimal doses of sulphur, in respect of the environment and of mankind.

No more than 30 mg/L for reds and 40 mg/L for whites.

 

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