Australia and most of the world’s wine producing countries have plenty of these, but what exactly are they? Well, ‘natural wine’ is a term that sparks a lot of debate as to its meaning. It’s far too complex to describe simply but it generally refers to wines (often organic or biodynamic in origin) that are made without the use of additives, and with grapes sourced from sustainable vineyards.
Natural wines in Australia – wine made the natural way
Natural wines in Australia or from overseas are often allowed to ferment naturally from ambient yeasts with minimal intervention in the winemaking process. In other words, natural wines are usually left to ferment with as little human interference as possible.
The French use a term ‘natur’ to describe these wines. This can be broadly interpreted as meaning ‘nothing added and nothing taken away’. In some cases, these wines are made in an oxidative manner, in which whole bunches are left on skins for quite some time post-fermentation before the juice is pressed off, and are then bottled without filtration or fining.
Colour and appearance of natural wine
The natural winemaking process can result in white wines that appear orange or amber in colour, and reds that may appear brickish. Both red wines and whites may retain sediment and appear cloudy but that’s pretty organic right? Some winemakers utilise SO2 (220) for preservation and stabilisation, but as an ethos natural wines, biodynamic wines and organic wines, tend to keep additives to a bare minimum. Some winemakers may use CO2 as the preservative, which can remain in solution for a little while after the bottle is opened, giving the wine a tiny bit of spritz in the glass. However, a good decant will usually see the spritz dissipate.
Natural wines in Australia may be a bit different!
Sometimes we might describe a wine as avant garde, and this often applies to natural wines in Australia. This suggests that the wine may be a little different from the conventional, and may just be a bit more challenging. But that doesn’t mean natural wines in Australia shouldn’t be enjoyed in exactly the same way as the more conventional wines!