What is a natural wine?

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags natural wine Wine Organic agriculture

A French politician is calling for the country to create a legal definition for natural wines, saying it is important to distinguish the category against other wines.

Broadly speaking, natural wines are those that use organic or biodynamic principles in the vineyards, but also use manual harvesting techniques for grapes, use only yeast found locally and naturally in grape berries, and refrain from techniques such as flash pasteurization and reverse osmosis. Sulfites can only be used in small quantities.

In addition, the natural wine is produced in small quantities by independent producers.

France has around 500 natural wine producers. Marie-France Lorho, a member of far-right party Ligue du Sud, has asked Parliament to create a group to consider the legal definition of natural wine. She says this is necessary to distinguish natural wines from other wines, as well as set limits for sulfites in wine.

Lorho says a definition would also help set natural wines apart from organic wines: highlighting that natural wines extend the concept of natural across the entire production processes from planting through to bottling.

“Defining natural wine will make the concept less vague to consumers; and we should act before mass consumption and commercial interests take over,” ​she said in French in her submission​ to the Assemblée Nationale.

France has seen particularly strong momentum towards responsible wines, with increased interest in organic​, biodynamic, vegan and natural wines. Organic vineyards make up 9% of the total surface area of vineyards, while organic wine sales have seen average annual growth of 20% over the last 20 years. 

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