In recent years environmental sustainability has influenced many aspects of our lives. More and more consumers are interested in organic and healthy food and products and wine is one of them, obviously.
As green has many shades, wines named sustainable are also very different and the debate around what’s really environmental-friendly and “raw” and what’s not it’s still open in Italy and abroad.
Biologico – organic wine
At the moment the word biologico, organic, is the only term that has an official recognition in the European Union. The production of bio wines, from the vineyard to the cellar is in fact regulated by a European rule, including also a specific logo valid for all the EU members.
Vino biologico is a wine:
- whose grapes have been grown using organic farming methods (according to EU regulation 203/2012), basically without synthetic chemicals and without GMOs;
- the vinification processes involve only the oenological products and the procedures authorized by regulation 203/2012, avoiding the addition of any chemical to correct the wine.
One of the important discussed points in these kinds of wines is the quantity of sulfites admitted: in vino biologico the maximum quantity is 100 mg / liter for red wines and 150 mg / liter for whites and rosés.
Although not yet recognized in terms of legislation as for biologico, this agricultural view on farming is based on a solid, studied method that dates back to the 1920s, when the Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner developed practices for agriculture and livestock management.
Biodynamic wines are wines obtained by biodynamic agriculture, whose connection with the land is extremely tight. This approach on farming is based on removing the chemistry and minimizing the use of machinery, respecting the course of nature – as the lunar phases – and its resources, as well as on the use of specific biodynamic preparations (natural compost).
As this kind of farming is very natural, there are obviously some places in the world better suited to these approaches than others.
As organic wines, biodynamic wines also do not totally reduce sulfites but limit them further.
The meaning of the word “natural” referred to wines is very broad as the use of this term is not regulated and there are no official certifications at the moment. Biodynamic wines, in which nature plays a very important role, can be also called natural, in a certain way. Finding only one description is not easy but, according to associations of natural wine-makers and experts in this field, we can say that a natural wine is basically obtained:
- by an independent producer, from the owned vineyards;
- from an agronomy as natural as possible, at least in organic farming;
- no use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or insecticides;
- from grapes harvested by hand,
- wines are spontaneously fermented, without the addition of yeasts or enzymes or other aids to fermentation,
- without any other technical adjustment or addition of additives.
The purists of natural wines produce them without any addition of sulfites, but we can also consider natural wines that have small quantities of added sulfites. The addition of sulfites also depends on the season and the ageing in the cellar, according to the natural conditions that may change every year.
Expect the unexpected: approaching a natural wine – wine tasting
Being less “manifactured”, a natural wine can be very different every year. Different bottles of the same year may also vary slightly, depending on the barrel/vat from which they come and, especially, from the moment of the tasting.
Best way to approach a natural wine? Forget all our prejudices.
As these kinds of wines are proudly unfiltered, in our glass they can appear cloudy and it is common and normal to find sediments in each bottle. When oxidation is an antagonist in conventional wine-making, in these wines can be a goal to wisely master.
Long macerations on the lees, both for red, but also for white grapes, is another distinctive aspect that has an important impact also on the colour, especially in the whites, which can range from a deep golden yellow, to an intense orange, up to extreme brownish nuances.
This peculiar visual aspect has contributed to the appellation “orange wines”, now worldwide used referring to natural wines also aged in amphora (terracotta) vats: another important signature in natural wine-making.
The impact on the palate is not always easy and comfortable, due to the presence of unexpected flavours far from the classic “flowers & fuit” and closer to earthy and oxidative hints.
This unpredictability together with the extraordinary aromatic range make these wines unique and so special also in the food pairing.
◊ Umbria is named the Green Heart of Italy and not only for its beautiful nature: more and more producers are organic and several biodynamic: environmental sustainability is a shared “credo”.
Join our wine tours and discover the best green wineries of Umbria!