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Natural, Organic, Bio – Oh My!!!

Organic, Biodynamic or Natural… three of the more seemingly interchangeable wine terms hitting the headlines over the past 2 to 3 years! There is so much grey area and mystique surrounding these 3 in-vogue categories, particularly when one considers that essentially, they represent a return to simpler methods in both the vineyard and winery.

The proliferation of natural leaning wine bars, shops and restaurant lists had it’s advent in Paris during the 90’s and has subsequently flourished in all corners of the globe. London is home to many fantastic places to drink and explore, including our very own bar in POP Brixton, and new big sister restaurant, the Laundry. Other places to hit are Sager + Wilde, BRAT and Terroirs. closer to home in New Zealand and Australia there are a multitude of fantastic venues proudly showcasing the best of the Southern Hemisphere, and are well worth a look if you’re in the area. Our favourites include Love, Tilly Devine, Dear Sainte Eloise and 10 William Street (Sydney), Embla and Bar Liberty (Melbourne), Hellbound (Adelaide), as well as Annabel’s (Auckland) and Glass (Wellington) in NZ. Just to name a few!!

Talk to me about ORGANICS

Probably the easiest category to get to grips with, considering its now mainstream food element. This is all to do with farming practices, including minimal use of herbicides and pesticides in the vineyard. The aim is to promote natural resistance to disease and pests, only addressing these if the situation absolutely demands it, using approved products which will not permanently damage the land. 

During the 60’s in France there was a massive push into the market by large agro-chemical companies, offering crazy prices to vignerons with the promise of reduced labour etc. this led to severe natural deficiencies of nutrients etc required by the vine to grow and flourish. A re-revolution occured in the 90’s with a new generation of farmers coming through and embracing organic viticulture. 

Many of our favourite NZ and AUS producers spent their formative years working with such producers, and took home many of their practices. As such, we are extremely fortunate to be able to work with and promote so many fantastic wines produced according to organic practices!

Loveblock, perched high up in the Awatere Valley sub-region of Marlborough, has been producing sumptuous wines since 2004. Their hillside location has perfect northerly aspect and breezes help moderate conditions and reduce disease pressure. We’re loving the Loveblock Orange at the moment, a skin contact Sauvignon Blanc showing exotic spice and texture overlaying classic tropical Marlborough fruit flavours. 

Further reading: https://www.organicwinenz.com/about

What on earth is BIODYNAMIC?

Old school farming is probably the best way to describe this. Historically farmers used to follow the patterns of the moon, used cover crops liberally and in many regards let nature take its course. The advent of more commercial farming operations meant this way of farming largely fell by the wayside, until Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner began to popularise biodynamic farming principles again. Alongside following the lunar calendar, biodynamics focuses heavily on soil preparation and the promotion of natural biodiversity in the vineyard. It is felt that by developing the natural immunity of the vine, and promoting a healthy ecosystem, that all disease and pest issues can be self-controlled. 

Climate has a huge role to play in the suitability of a vineyard for both organic and biodynamic farming. Generally speaking, a more stable, drier climate is better suited as disease pressure is naturally lower. Soil types are also a factor, and go some way to explaining why there tend to be global hotspots for this type of viticulture including Margaret River and McLaren Vale as well as Central Otago.

Vanya Cullen is rightly regarded as the queen of biodynamics in Australia, with her winery Cullen, based in Margaret River,  producing some of Australia’s greatest wines. Their aim is to minimise the impact of their activities on the global environment. 

Special mention to our friends at Rippon who are lucky enough to farm what is probably the most beautiful vineyard site in the world, and are certified by Demeter.

Further reading: https://www.wineaustralia.com/green-wines

Au NATURALe

Definitely the most controversial and misunderstood of the lot! As to what constitutes natural, you’ll likely receive a different answer from each person you ask! For us it means nothing added, and nothing taken away…

In simple terms it is production in the most hands-off way possible, eschewing modern luxuries of commercial farming methods and winery implements such as temperature control, industrial fining and filtration. Producers instead work with techniques such as extended skin contact, whole bunch fermentation and skip the filtration stage to produce cloudy, textural whites and racy, lively reds alongside the odd orange or amber wine!

Ochota Barrels are at the forefront of natural Australian production, crafting interesting and extremely clean wines from sites around the Adelaide Hills. Thirst quenching wines of intrigue that stand up to the best in the world, or can be happily consumed sitting in the park straight from the esky. 

Further reading: https://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/natural-wine/natural-wine-a-fad-or-here-to-stay

Our top 5 to try (in no particular order!), perfect for any mood, day, weather or occasion!

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