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Nature Glossary

Why organic?

Interest in natural wines has increased dramatically in recent years and the proportion of organically produced wines has skyrocketed. The reasons for this are as varied as they are different.

• Young people and the new generation of winemakers have greater environmental and sustainability awareness - and not just since Greta.
• People want to know what is in food and also in wine. And what not.
• There is generally a great thirst for knowledge about wine.
• Social media increases attention.
• It is now common knowledge that organic wine can keep up with or even exceed conventional wines in terms of quality.
• And: You can sleep better with a clear conscience.

Certified organic

You could fill entire websites on this topic. That's why we try to describe this sticking point briefly and succinctly, but still as informatively and comprehensively as possible. Organic viticulture is based on the avoidance of certain applications in fertilization, crop protection and certain cellar management measures. In principle, the national wine laws and the products listed in the “Codex” for processing organically produced grapes apply to wine production.

Fertilization and plant protection:

The soil is the real treasure trove of viticulture production and is managed with site-adapted cultivation measures and green cover management tailored to the soil and vine needs. Fertility and health are improved with regular additions of organic fertilizer such as compost (or, depending on approval, mineral fertilizer). The sustainable goal is the greatest possible diversity of species and the promotion of beneficial insects. In principle, the use of synthetically produced insecticides, organic fungicides and herbicides is prohibited. But even in organic vineyards, diseases have to be combated every year. Therefore - in the absence of better alternatives - the use of copper sulfate against downy mildew is permitted. However, the method is controversial because copper sulfate has an ecotoxic effect, cannot be broken down and therefore accumulates in the soil. This is still in contradiction with the ambitious goals of organic production.

Cellar management measures:

They are limited to the most necessary interventions and differ depending on the operating philosophy. It should be mentioned that the use of sulfur dioxide (sulfites, SO2) is permitted to a limited extent. Why does the wine label say “Contains sulfites”? Precisely because doing without it has dramatic consequences for any wine. In order to mitigate this, this use is clearly defined and can be adjusted regionally depending on weather conditions. However, aids such as potassium sorbate, blue fining with yellow potash, partial dealcoholization or genetically modified microorganisms are prohibited. Depending on the label, the addition of oak wood pieces, gum arabic, isinglass or casein is also prohibited.

All certified wines (without Demeter)

Biodynamic wine and Demeter

The origin of biodynamics in agriculture and winegrowing can be traced back to 1924, when Rudolf Steiner presented his ideas in a series of lectures.

Those who work according to biodynamic guidelines go far beyond the requirements of organic viticulture. In concrete terms, this means: avoiding pesticides and artificial fertilizers, taking into account the ecological diversity in the vineyard and qualitative work with the vines. In addition, there is the use of biodynamic preparations.

Biodynamic products can be certified through the Demeter association, which was founded in 1927. The Demeter International association was founded in 1997. Today, around 880 wineries worldwide are Demeter-certified, including around 60 in Switzerland.

Demeter wine pressing goes a decisive step further than regular organic pressing:
• The natural yeasts that occur on the grapes are used for fermentation.
• The fining agents are severely limited. For example, no gelatine may be added to Demeter wine production.
• All Demeter wines are vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan, as they can be refined with egg or skimmed milk/whey. If you want to know whether a wine is vegan, you can find out using the Vegan search filter in the online shop. In general, if a wine does not have an explicit note, you must ask the winemaker or wine dealer directly.
• Enzymes that increase the juice yield may not be used in Demeter wines.
• No rectified grape must concentrate is added.
• Sulfur may be used in organic wines as well as in Demeter wines.

The Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy is an example of the foresight and importance of biodynamic winegrowing: the rarest, most expensive and often best wine in the world has been produced organically since 1985 and biodynamically since 1996. However, the conviction in the Domaine Romanée Conti is not of a philosophical nature, but rather of a simply pragmatic and very concrete nature. A 75cl bottle from the full 2015 vintage costs around 19,000 francs. Instead of buying a new car, you should treat yourself to a wine like this once in your life.

All biodynamic wines

All Demeter weep

Vegan wine

Are you wondering how on earth a wine can't be vegan? The answer is simpler than expected. Wine production is fundamentally based on the fermentation of grapes, which suggests a plant-based, i.e. vegan and vegetarian, end product. However, for clarification and fining (removing solids, making it smooth, stabilizing), animal aids such as chicken egg white, gelatin or milk products are permitted. Fining with egg whites has been known since ancient times and is considered particularly gentle, efficient and natural, which is why it is still used extensively by many top producers today.

The most common vegan fining methods are bentonite, activated carbon of non-animal origin, vegetable gelatin or sedimentation. Bentonite is a natural mineral clay from the weathering of volcanic ash or similar deposits and is the safest way to prevent clouding in wine. Activated carbon is used to eliminate color, odor and taste defects and natural sedimentation is a very gentle and quality-enhancing process for must clarification. So it can also be done without any animal products. And certainly not at the expense of quality, otherwise more and more top winemakers would not switch to the vegan wine style.

All vegan wines

Orange Wine

An orange wine is a white wine that is made like a red wine. The white wine grapes are fermented with the berry skins (mash) and thereby extract more tannins and colors from the berry skins. Orange wine is characterized by a dark yellow to orange color and is usually somewhat cloudy. It is sometimes referred to as the fourth wine color alongside red, white and rosé.

An example of a traditional mash-fermented white wine is Ampeleia Bianco from Tuscany. Even if it still serves a small market niche, there is an international trend in which winemakers are gaining experience with orange wine. Different styles are created using traditional and modern methods - with the common denominator being the mash time. The wines are extremely different in appearance, smell and taste and can sometimes take some getting used to. Orange wine is predominantly offered in the middle and upper price segments.

All orange wines

Natural Wine

Even though the production of natural wine (in all colors) is not regulated by law, a clear consensus is emerging among producers: organic farming is seen as a prerequisite for natural wine production. Most are certified or are in the process of converting. Healthy grapes require extensive vine care and early harvesting. The avoidance of enrichment, fining agents and filtration aids in favor of natural clarification is undisputed. The use of sulfur is viewed differently, with half of producers thinking that no sulfur should be added to natural wine, while the other half are in favor of moderate sulphurization.

All natural wines

And finally... the crucial question

Is organic wine better than conventionally produced wine?

No. The same applies to organic wine as to any other wine: everyone has different tastes and should find the ideal wine for themselves, regardless of trends, fashions and experts. The reverse also applies: organic wine does not have to taste better or worse than conventional wine.
However, because many additives are prohibited in organic wine, this can mean that certain mainstream flavors are more difficult to "make". Many wine connoisseurs see this positively and think that organic wine tastes more individual and authentic. But you have to do it take into account that, above all, commercially successful, conventional wines and wines produced in large quantities are - and even have to be - enhanced using oenological processes. Because customers often expect consistent quality and a similar taste. But this is exactly what happens with a natural product (like wine actually). should be) difficult to guarantee. And at the same time you always have to be aware that the boundaries between conventional, organic and biodynamic are often fluid. Because many conventional winegrowers also try to get by with as few sprays as possible in order to keep their soil healthier and This can even save you money. But if you want to know what means a conventional producer uses in the vineyard and cellar, you have to maintain a close relationship with them. Otherwise, it is very difficult to obtain such information.

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