On natural wine and its influence on my winemaking

I’ve written about it on the blog before, but I wanted to write a more dedicated post on my thoughts on natural wines, why everyone is buzzing about them, and their role in my own wine world.

What is natural wine?

This is the question you’ll see most debated online it seems. Not just the question being asked, but wine-insiders debating the asking of the question in the first place. There are some who want precise, legalistic definitions; and there are those who prefer the rougher, holistic perspective of determining the boundaries.

How much sulphur added is too much? Does the colonization of cellars by commercial yeasts complicate the reliance on native yeasts? Or, ultimately, is the term “natural” simply used to define a millennialhipster culture or is it about greater questions of sustainability? If the former, is that a result of the exclusion of a new generation of wine consumers through the exponential price inflation?

If you squint past the cultural debates and try to focus on the winemaking practices that are connected to what’s considered natural wine, I think it can be boiled down to a few elements: sustainably grown and sourced grapes; no adjustments for acid, tannin, etc.; minimal (if any) sulfite addition; no added commercial yeast.

There are a lot of holes, debates, and expansions in that list above, for sure. But, when you get tired of going deep into these debates, that’s perhaps the least objectionable zone that could get closest to a definition.

Why is everyone talking about natural wine right now?

I linked to a bunch of articles and blog posts above. But, there are many more where those came from.

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Project updates

Looks like it’s 63 degrees

Minimal Additives Riesling Kit

This is the kit I had hanging under my desk for a few months and got it going at the end of April. It’s gone through some ups and downs over the past few months, but today I figured it was time to give it a racking. Possibly its last.

It had developed a thin, but notable layer of yeast down at the bottom of the carboy. The bubbles from the degassing CO2 at the top were starting to dissipate as well. I figured that it would be good to get it off the yeast residue and that the racking would speed up the degassing process. I grabbed a sip as I racked and was pleasantly surprised. It was certainly still bubbly but pleasantly acidic and not overly sweet.

The racking process left me with a bit of headspace again, but I fortunately had a bottle of Frey white hanging out in the basement. I used about half that bottle to get the level back up. (Does that count as an additive?)

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