Definition and obligations of “natural method wines”

Following the indications of the repression of fraud, the union for the defense of Nature’l wines has just adopted a charter that combines commitment to honor and integration perspective in the rules.

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refining and framing natural wines: the process is not without difficulties, but it hopes to quickly resolve any ambiguity. “The desire that motivates us is that when the consumer opens the stopper on a bottle of natural wine, he actually finds a natural wine” poses Jacques Carroget, President of the Nature’l * Wine Defense Union, meeting at the General Assembly on 3 February 2020 during the Loire Wine Fair (Angers).

This project, launched in September 2019, to regulate the mention of natural wine has been a success. This union was just born and was able to refine its project with services from the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) and the fight against fraud. The latter has blown a name that is compatible with the applicable European rules: “Natural method wine” (the term natural wine is illegal). An expression rejected under two logos “Natural method wine” : the first subtitle “no added sulfites” (for sulphite concentrations below 10 mg / l) and the other “less than 30 mg / l added sulphites”.

Charter for engagement

To show these characteristic signs on the label, a cuvée entered by a winegrower or wine merchant must respect the association’s charter **. Repeated in its entirety below (see box), this text requires that each cuvée involved in the method of a natural wine come from a property involved in organic farming (organic certification, or other year of organic conversion, or private Naturcharter and Progress), plots harvested manually (to involve the human hand), must without feed or filtration or fermentation (use of native yeast), vessels without sulphites during fermentation (but with the possibility of adding SO2 less than 30 mg / l before bottling) …

Unable to check

Based on a commitment of honor, these requirements are based on an official commitment at the time of the vintage declaration of the vintage (before December 10), an analysis of sulfites in the bottle (Cofrac Frantz Paul Protocol) and checks annual samples per. a certification body (1% of members, based on traceability and annual analyzes). “Our approach is to define a natural wine without limiting the degrees of freedom of winemakers” emphasizes Gilles Azzoni, assistant secretary of the union Nature’l. Even though the Ariège winemaker acknowledges it“In practice, it will be impossible for us to check that no sulphites have been added during the wading, or that no yeast has been added. But the commitment to honor is a huge responsibility, which makes sense. To each one’s conscience

Fear of improvement

The revelation did not fail the charter to get the participants gathered in a small room in the Angers exhibition center to respond. Whether it is the use of the private depot Nature et Progrès or the indication of the addition of sulphites, if SO2 comes from yeast activity, or the very possibility of adding sulphites … But the slogan that came up most relates to the risk of this definition is taken over in the cuvées scale by large operators, such as merchants and cooperative cellars.

An outdated debate for blogger activist Antonin Iommi-Amunategui, founding member of the union, which condemns the already massive abuse of terminology and the world of natural wines. “One has to reach out to the general public, which has been in the dark for years. There is currently a real scam on the shelves in supermarkets » thunders Antonin Iommi-Amunategui and gets carried away by the mention of Gérard Bertrand’s flash pasteurized cuvées.

Regulatory in five years

“Our union wants to be neutral. We are not committed to one or the other model of viticulture ” adds Philippe Carroget. Currently with 65 vintages committed to 168 members (including 44 French, Italian and Spanish winemakers), the union president is aiming for 1,000 members in three years (including 500 winemakers). Jacques Carroget projects himself above all on the presentation of these specifications on 21 February at Les Frauds. Its long-term ambition is to integrate this approach into the rules: “Today the charter is private, the goal is to make it mandatory in five years”.

An ambition for regulation that is not achieved without a certain ideal. ‘Other associations have been suffocated by fear and paranoia of being hijacked. There we open up. It is a risk to draw air as there is high demand and little supply “ ends Gilles Azzoni. Hoping to open up a new space for young winemakers, he prepares for lively debates to maintain the balance between charter availability (the possibility of sulphitization is rhédibitoire for some) and the selectivity of the approach (debates announced on harvesters, filtration, etc.).

*: The first general meeting of the union was held in September 2019 with six members (winemakers Jacques Carroget, Gilles Azzoni and Sébastien David, as well as anthropologist Christelle Pineau, journalist Antonin Iommi-Amunategui, lawyer Eric Morain).

**: Please note that a cuvée committed to the natural wine method can only produce wines that meet the specifications, so as not to risk misleading the consumer.

The charter of commitment for the trade union for the defense of natural wines

1. 100% of the grapes (of all origins: AOP, Vin de France, etc.) intended for a wine claiming to be “natural method wine” must come from committed and certified organic farming (Nature et Progrès, AB, or at least second year conversion AB).

2. The harvest is manual.

3. The wines are vinified only with native yeasts.

4. No input is added.

No voluntary change in the composition of the grape is allowed.

6. The use of brutal and traumatic physical techniques (reverse osmosis, filtration, cross-flow filtration, flash pasteurization, thermovinification, etc.) is not permitted.

7. No sulphites are added before and during the fermentations. Possibility of adjusting the order of magnitude – SO2 <30 mg / l total H2SO4, regardless of the type and color of the wine - before bottling; information requirements for the addition of sulphites mentioned on the label via a dedicated logo.

8. During a “natural method wine fair” both the winegrowers and the organizers undertake to present the charter next to the bottles; Independent wine merchants are encouraged to do the same within their business as far as possible.

9. Use of identifying logo.

10. The undertaking will be given under the “marketing” (performance obligation) by a “declaration of honor”, following the opinion of the association’s office; it will be requested each year for each cuvée (lot clearly identified).

11. Cuvées that are not “natural wine method wines” must be clearly identifiable (differentiated labeling) by the signatories.

12. Signatories will sign on their own behalf and all requested information will be published online.

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