What Is Natural Wine

What Is Natural Wine

Posted by JWA on 21st Feb 2020

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The debate about this term will probably rage on eternally, and it is worth noting that at Wayward we are not dogmatic. Natural wine is a philosophy that is not always possible to achieve depending on the conditions of a vintage, or geographical location. It’s also a term that comes with a lot of baggage, so allow us to offer our take to the many-proffered interpretations of it. We believe it is important to split the work in the vineyard (the cultivation of the grapes) and the work in the cellar (the making of the wine) into two distinct halves. Organic and Biodynamic mainly refers to work in the vineyard, eschews the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides and is intended to promote soil, and therefore vine, health. However, a wine with an organic certification doesn’t always mean a ‘natural’ approach in the cellar. Biodynamics differs in that it follows through to the winemaking and dictates that certain decisions are made and processes applied to the wine in accordance with the earth’s lunar cycles. It is unusual for a producer to work with biodynamics and then manipulate the wine heavily in the cellar. And then we come to natural wine which, to us, takes these practises from the vineyard through to a staunchly ‘nothing added or taken away’ or low-intervention philosophy in the winemaking. The grapes will be picked by hand not machine, they will be pressed manually, and they will ferment spontaneously with the native yeasts on the skins of the grapes, not by adding industrial yeasts. The wine will not be filtered or fined and in many cases will be moved from vessel to vessel using gravity rather than pumping machinery. A huge part of natural wine is avoiding the use of sulphur, which has many uses in conventional winemaking from inoculating grapes, through to stabilising the wine once it is bottled. Natural wine seeks to use sulphur in the smallest quantities possible, or in some cases if the conditions are right, avoid it completely. With every wine we list you can see what processes are employed in the vineyard and cellar to help you make the distinction. It’s important to remember that ‘natural wine’ is a given term that many producers don’t always self-identify with as it’s simply the way they have always worked, depending on where in the world they are. Different vintages come with different challenges and sometimes require different approaches, so we think of these things on a sliding scale rather than stark black or white. And true, not every wine made this way is successful; but that is why we are here - to select the ones that we think are worth the journey from harvest to your glass. It is a widely held misconception that wine produced in this way always yields the same outcome. In our experience they range from the wild, raw and invigorating, to the classical, to the singular and sublime. There is nothing we’d rather drink.