"Give me my wine back!"
With this quote, Alice Feiring warned against the mechanization of wine in 2001.
Winemakers wanted to please the influential critic Robert Parker and create wines to suit his taste. The laboratory and talented winemakers helped them. It was a reckless pact, with boundless possibilities. Everything could taste the same, whether from Neusiedler See or California. Additives, cultivated yeasts, nutrient salts, recipes - modern "wine making" was born. So successful that this approach became part of the education in universities and schools — and it persists to this day. According to current academic teachings, you can’t make wine without additives!
The question that justifiably arises is, how was it done in the past?
Almost all wines worldwide are currently made this way! This ranges from small tweaks to massive interventions such as acidification or sugaring. Although by law, wine is considered a food, no one has to write down what exactly is in it. And where there's nothing on the label, there's nothing inside! How practical!
The natural wine movement was a direct reaction to this process of uniformity. Diversity in styles, based on artisanal viticulture that feeds on local varieties and traditions.
Organic farming, spontaneous fermentation and no additives were the credo. But change is quietly creeping in once again. The regained diversity and purity are threatened. An ominous pact between global warming and the supposed desire of consumers is once again turning the wine world upside down.
Over the next few months, we won't be turning into the Cassandra who sees the end of the world, but we will try to shed some light on the issue. The motivation came from one of our favourite customers, Arthur, who, after we'd discussed the subject, said "You've got to tell us! We don't know all that's going on!" Since with us, at least sometimes, the customer is king or queen, we are happy to fulfill this wish with a series of articles - stay tuned!