Understand the difference
The organic agriculture movement started back in early 1900’s. It responded
to the shift towards synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides.
Rudolf Steiner, was at the origin of this movement and presented the first
organic agriculture course in 1924. His writings and observations led to the
popularization of biodynamic farming, the first organic farming system.
Since then we can see the development of 3 families of organic viticulture in
today’s wine landscape.
Those wines do possess the label according to their country of origin. The
basic requirements are generally specific and engage the farmers not to use
any chemical fertilizers and other synthetic products in the vineyard. It does not prevent the vintner to use conventional winemaking process after
harvesting. This point is probably the most contentious as, even though the
grapes are organically grown, the wine making is not. It leads, unfortunately, to a lack of coherence in the ‘organic” approach and wines of variable quality.
They are of particular interest, because they are following Rudolf Steiner
concept, and go a step further in terms of wine making process. Here lies the
foundation of true organic wines, with a strict limit in the use of additives, stringent requirements and at the end obtaining a biodynamic certification (Demeter, originally from Germany the oldest certification, and Biodyvin from France). Moreover, in the vineyard, the use of natural compost, preparation, that are sprayed according to Nature rhythm, moon cycles and help not only the vines but primarily the soil in giving the best grapes, who are hand picked of course. Biodynamic main objective is to heal, regenerate, respect the Earth, the landscapes and provide healthy foods to Man. Here the Nature is considered as a whole with multiple interactions (Universe/Soils/Man).
This is probably a very interesting concept, born in the 1950’s in France
impulse by Jules Chauvet in Beaujolais. This movement is also, the
realization that the use of chemical fertilizers, and additives in the wine world was leading to generic wines, tasteless and without any specific
characteristics that would make a wine unique and more over harmful to
health. Similarities can be found with biodynamic viticulture. In Natural wine, the concept of “Pure fermented grape juice” described quite well those wines.
Here, organic grown grapes, and a natural wine making process, ie no
artificial yeasts, no added sugars, acid, tannins and other synthetic additives are used. Added sulfites (SO2) to the minimum and more often than not, no added sulfites at all.
It requires an enormous amount of work in the vineyards, as biodynamic
wines, to achieve the best grapes possible. In the cellar, pampering of the
natural yeast is a must, THEY ARE GIVING THE UNIQUE TASTE OF THE WINE! No filtration and fining to finish the process is also part of giving what the wine should be. No label exists for natural wine, hence wine lovers who become importers, distributors and retailers are the only point of entry to make discover those wines with a difference.