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Photo: McLaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association.

Photo: McLaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association.

ORGANIC, natural, biodynamic, eco-friendly, new age – whatever label it comes with, wines made in accordance with sustainable practices are currently on the ascent and consumer appetite is steadily growing.

Naked Wines’ call centre constantly fields questions from customers regarding organic, vegan, vegetarian and biodynamic wines.

Lines of enquiry are specifically regarding supply from engaged consumers who already understand exactly what these wines are and are actively seeking them out.

The sustainable winemaking movement is ultimately focused upon a ‘back to basics’ philosophy and a quest for quality, integrity and sustainability in both the agricultural and viticultural processes.

Sustainability refers to a range of practices that are not only ecologically sound, but also economically viable and socially responsible.

NAKES WINES AUSTRALIA: PRESENT OFFERING IN THIS SPACE

Ashley Horner, Hunter Valley

Various Ashley Horner wines are certified organic, including its Little Jack range.

In addition to this, Naked Wines offers all the Ash Horner Hunter Valley products made following organic principles, but the vineyards will not be certified until next year.

The list includes:

  • Ashley Horner Family Reserve Chardonnay 2013
  • Ashley Horner Family Reserve Shiraz 2013
  • Ashley Horner Family Reserve Late Harvest Viognier 2013
  • Ashley Horner Family Reserve Viognier 2013
  • Ashley Horner Family Reserve Verdelho 2013

Ben Gould, Margaret River

Ben Gould is an experimental winemaker producing under the Blind Corner brand and based in Margaret River.

He is leading and embracing the ‘natural’ wine movement. The following new wines are all made following those principles:

  • Blindside Margaret River Ripasso 2013
  • Blindside Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Blindside Margaret River Rose 2013

Anna and Derek Hooper, Limestone Coast, South Australia

New on the site this month, Naked Wines’ has two new biodynamic wines from Anna and Derek Hooper’s label Obelisk Wines.

The couple is all about sustainability and in coming years more of their wines will be pushing for the certified organic status. Their current certified wines include:

  • Obelisk Wines Uncharted BioDynamic Shiraz 2012
  • Obelisk Wines Uncharted BioDynamic Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
  • Obelisk Ded Reckoning Pinot Gris 2013 (Organic)

“Our approach to biodynamics is more of a contemporary one,” Anna said.

“After 20 years of collective experiences in biodynamics, we have developed our own business philosophy based on life, vibrancy and progressiveness.

“This translates to ‘bio’ meaning life and ‘dynamic’ referring to a force which stimulates change or progress.

“This philosophy is not just about our vineyard it’s about our whole approach to life.

“We like to think we are paving the way for a modern day interpretation of biodynamics in the Australian wine industry.”

Cynthea and David Feldheim, Tasmania

Cynthea and David Feldheim’s Gypsy Caravan wines are produced in Tasmania. While their wines are made in a completely sustainable vineyard and winery, their products can’t be certified due to climate and humidity.

Their wines include:

  • Gypsy Caravan Tamar Chardonnay 2013
  • Gypsy Caravan Tamar Pinot Noir 2013

“We are using sustainable practices in our vineyard and winery anywhere possible to see the best flavour profiles from our vines, and also to have a clear head and unburdened heart with producing alcoholic beverages while farming on this earth,” Cynthea said.

“With biodynamic farming, you can taste the life in the wines produced.”

The couple returned to Tasmania to make wines because of the climate and the pristine environment.

Cynthea said they tried biodynamic and organic practices however their position on a wide expanse of river meant it was very humid and their vineyards were prone to fungus, which many organic practices could not control.

“We are now growing grapes with a sustainable approach wherever we can, we spray biodynamic preparations to increase life in the soil, but also spray minimal chemicals when there is a reaction required,” she said.

“Our winery practices include gravity flow, natural and indigenous yeasts from the vineyards, racking with moon phases for clarity, minimal if any finings and small additions of SO2 just prior to bottle.”

ORGANIC WINEMAKING

Organic winemaking and organic growing involves grapes that have been produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

In grapegrowing, insecticides and most chemical sprays are prohibited. Any chemicals or additives used must be naturally occurring and not poisonous.

In winemaking, techniques should also be organic. This means little or no manipulation of wines by reverse osmosis, excessive filtration, or flavour additives (such as oak chips).

The majority of organic winemakers also prefer wild yeasts for fermentation, rather than added sulfites (although naturally occurring sulfites will still be present).

To be certified as organic involves auditing by a registered authority, to determine that all stages of the process of grape growing and winemaking comply with a strict regime.

BIODYNAMIC WINEMAKING  

Biodynamics essentially takes organic to the next level, providing an alternative agricultural and philosophical approach to vineyard management and winemaking.

The key to understanding biodynamics is to view the farm and vineyards as one living ecosystem.

Like an oversized greenhouse, they operate as independent and self-sustaining systems.

A good biodynamic winemaker will know every detail about their environment – soil composition, scale of climate, history of use, pollution levels, instances of disease, resident wildlife, water supplies, sun/shade and so on.

All of this information will be taken into account as they devise their individual biodynamic program, which is focused upon maintaining the health of the whole environment – not just optimising the grapes and vines.

In the same way as organic, the idea of using synthetic fertilisers or pesticides is abhorrent.

Instead, biodynamic farmers use a series of special preparations to enhance the life of the soil, which are applied at appropriate times in keeping with the rhythms of nature.

Inevitably, when elements such homeopathic preparations and rhythms of the moon and cosmos are involved, it’s easy for sceptics to brand anything within this realm as ‘pagan hocus pocus’.

The BFA (Biological Farmers of Australia) is Australia’s largest representative organic body and they are responsible for certification of organic and biodynamic producers.

NATURAL WINEMAKING

Natural winemaking is a traditional view of wine as an expression of specific terroir and grape varieties with minimal intervention by the winemaker.

It includes the practice of sustainable agriculture in the vineyard and the preservation of local winemaking techniques and customs.

The grapes grown in a vineyard that is farmed organically, biodynamically, or with sustainable agricultural practices at heart.

The grapes are harvested by hand; ensuring mature, clean fruit is selected.

In addition, natural winemaking controls yield per acre through pruning to ensure the quality of the grapes and preference is given to older vines that are low yielding.

Fermentation is achieved using only indigenous yeasts that are naturally present in the vineyard and cellar, enabling the ‘true’ flavours of the grapes and mineral properties of the soil to be communicated.

A policy of ‘non-intervention’ is also followed in the cellar.

Chemical and mechanical assistance to enhance flavours or raise alcohol levels are avoided and additives to enhance aroma or viscosity are not used.

Filtration at bottling (to remove sediment) and the use of sulfur-dioxide (as a preservative) is also kept to a bare minimum.

HOW ARE THE WINES DIFFERENT AND WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS CARE?

Most importantly, naturally made wines taste better and have more subtle and complex aromas.

They are usually lower in alcohol and lighter in body but have more precise and true fruit characteristics, complemented by flavours derived from the soil.

Natural wines also have good acidity, even in abnormally hot or dry years (especially if organically or biodynamically farmed), and possess a longer and more complex finish that stimulates the palate rather than dulls it.

Consequently, they tend to complement food in a much more powerful way, which is one of the most important roles of wine.

Contact: Kirsty McRae (Naked Wines)

P: 61 (0)478 665 774

E: kirsty.mcrae@nakedwines.com.au

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