Wines vinified without sulphites and natural wines with a few grams of sulphur are generally from biodynamic or organic farming.
You have to be careful with the natural wines that you can find in supermarkets, they are often flash pasteurised, like milk, this will destroy all the bacteria and yeast, everything that makes it alive.
The members of the AVN (Association Vins Naturels) and S.A.I.N.S. (Sans Aucun Intrant Ni Sulfite) associations are, for the most part, winegrowers. These are the reference associations for natural and no added sulphur wines. Not all winemakers who produce natural wines are necessarily linked to these associations.
The 3 important points to identify natural wines are
▪ Viticulture: the wine making must be done with organic or biodynamic grapes. The winemakers must also not use weed killers or synthetic products and the grapes are harvested by hand.
▪ Vinification: unlike organic or biodynamic wines, natural wine does not incorporate any inputs in the entire production chain.
▪ S ulphites: sulphites will always be found in the analyses of natural wines. But we owe it to nature... Indeed, the grape naturally releases sulphur during fermentation hence its presence in the analyses. It is interesting to differentiate between winemakers who work directly with the yeasts that are specific to their terroirs. It is interesting to differentiate between winemakers who work directly with the yeasts that are specific to their terroir, and those who work with selected yeasts that will influence the fermentation and notably the aromas and their precursors.
A demanding approach...
Wineries that vinify without sulphur are obliged to write "contains sulphites" on the label above 10mg/L of Total SO2 as H2SO4, as sulphur is considered an allergen.
Understanding more about natural wine
Sulphur is used to protect the vines from fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. At harvest time, the grapes are put into vats and fermentation begins. When they are harvested, the grapes are full of sugar, the winemakers are looking for the perfect balance between sugar and acidity, a phenolic maturity that will pay tribute to the terroirs without denaturing them. The sugars will be broken down by the action of the yeasts. These are the so-called indigenous yeasts present in the vineyards and on the grape skins, which break down the sugars into alcohol by releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). This is why some wines remain perlous on opening. In the case where the environment is no longer favourable, the wine will not degrade all its sugars, these are called "residual sugars", which are the sugars that will remain once the alcoholic fermentation is complete.
It is very difficult to make natural wine with indigenous yeast fermentation with grapes from a plot of land under chemical or integrated cultivation, because nothing is done to develop the biotope present on the plots. Moreover, the products used destroy the yeasts that are usually present. The yeasts would not be powerful enough to ensure the degradation of all the sugars, due to a lack of vitamins, a lack of population and a lack of diversity .... A lot of residual sugars would remain and a lot of sulphur would have to be added to stabilise the wine in the bottle, as the wine could restart fermentation.
Sulphur is a safety net, it is generally used throughout the wine making process, before fermentation, after fermentation, during maturation and before bottling. Like everything else, it is a question of balance, and wines with a high dose of sulphur are very difficult to assimilate. Everyone has their own acceptance threshold.
Winemakers who work without sulphur trust their experience and their grapes. It is a long process breath that has been put in place in the vineyards to get to this point.
For more information on the selection of natural wines on myvinnature.com
The winemakers we work with who produce natural wines have had their vineyards planted for several years, some of them over 120 years. All the wines we offer are fermented with their own yeasts and without selected active dry yeasts. They are therefore pure products of the terroir. The wines vinified without added sulphur that you can find on our site are identified by a small crossed out SO2 logo.
The selection of natural wines that you will find on our site is made by winemakers who care about the environment.
Why do some winemakers add sulphites to wine?
Sulphur is mainly added during the wine making process for its antioxidant and preservative qualities:
▪ Sulphur is an antioxidant that makes wine more resistant to changes caused by oxygen in the air.
▪ It is also a very good preservative: wine is a living product that can be chemically unstable. Bacteria and yeasts are found in it and survive for a long time.
The addition of sulphur to wine therefore allows winemakers to protect the wine from variations that may occur during the life of the bottle.
Sensitive people, please don't!
To the dismay of those who are sensitive to them, sulphites can also cause allergic reactions such as headaches.
As for us, we have trouble with wines containing more than 80 mg/l of total SO2, my head still remembers it the next day! This additive is classified as an allergen, hence the words "contains sulphites" on wine labels. Better safe than sorry...
The reduction of sulphites in wine is therefore a health issue. This is why we have chosen to offer you wines made exclusively with very little or no sulphur (wine without added sulphur). Ideally, man should not be involved in the vinification process.
All wines contain natural sulphur.
During the breakdown of sugars into alcohol, the fermentation process naturally produces sulphites!
The Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a major Burgundian colossus, practices biodynamic viticulture in its vineyards and uses very little sulphur in the vinification process.
However, to make wine without added sulphur, several criteria must be combined:
▪ Healthy grapes, without disease, without rot, without acetic acid pitting.
▪ Strict control of the vinification process (temperature and hygiene).
▪ A good technical mastery and a perfect knowledge of its terroir.
▪ Experience and courage.