Note from Pierre
A lot of people will tell you that making wine totally naturally, without adding sulphur dioxide, is impossible. But we believe in a few winemakers who are able to do just that.
They make wines that can age well and which are the perfect expression of their soil. The reasons are as simple as making wine itself.
The first point is to respect the land. This means completely organic grape production, which is the basis for the future of our planet. I mean no chemicals at all, a land that has known no ‘treatment’ for at least ten years. The one thing that might be tolerated would be a tiny bit of Bordeaux mixture (basically copper sulphate). And I mean a tiny bit, just to help the plant against powdery mildew (called oidium in French) once a year.
The second point is to help the vines to recreate a natural environment with everything that represents : flowers, birds, insects, all the microbial life, and all the natural goodness nature has to offer. You can’t just become this kind of winemaker overnight. It takes knowledge, experience, love, and strength. To make wine like the producers we support you need to be a bit crazy because, unlike conventional winemakers, you won’t make a lot of money.
And that’s how we come to the third and most important point. Many ‘organic’ winemakers may cultivate their vines organically, but when it comes to vinification they go back to conventional methods. These include fermenting with laboratory selected yeasts rather than indigenous ones, adding sugar or beetroot juice to the must, ageing the wine in new oak barrels, and adding tons of sulphite : first to stop the fermentation and then again just before bottling to ‘stabilise’ the wine.
The main secret for making a natural wine, without sulphur, is élevage, the way the wine is raised. You don't make your children leave home before they have grown to be adults, you don't put a natural wine in the bottle before it has been properly raised. In particular, the malolactic fermentation must be allowed to finish completely before the wine is put in the bottle.
To me these conventional wines, which we have been used to drinking since the fifties, are coming to their end, even if that means we have to change the way we taste by being more open-minded and independent. These wines are dead, unhealthy, and tasteless (they smell like wood and marmalade, and their high sulphur levels just destroy your head). These are wines which reflect a generation of humans that has industrialised all farming since the fifties. We now know that this generation was wrong and that we need to go back to real agriculture, for the sake of our children and for the future of our planet.
The few winemakers I’m talking about are real farmers who have always worked naturally. It’s not just a fashion. They work their land every day, some of them plowing behind animals instead of tractors, they use plants and aromatherapy to heal and protect their vines, they encourage a maximum of microbial life in the soil and the vineyard. All of them practice the fundamentals of biodynamics. Even though biodynamics has become something very snobbish and expensive to be a part of. Most of the more famous biodynamists are not natural at all when it comes to vinification.
These winemakers make real wine, the way it was made by the monks and the peasants who first built the reputation of French wine.