You may have noticed Veganuary as the buzzword around town this Jan, it’s all the rage. Not limited to food and wine, Vegan products now run the gamut through to soaps and clothes. I’ll admit to enjoying my meat-based products, however it’s easy to spot the virtues and positive impacts of the Vegan way.
There is currently a massive agricultural trend toward more sustainable methods of production, particularly in light of climate change and its effects on our more marginal regions. For the wine industry, Vineyard Management techniques are focusing more and more on organic and biodynamic practices.
Vegan practices pertain largely to the winemaking processes of fining and filtration which are used to produce crystal clear wines with no obvious sedimentation in the bottle. We’re extremely proud of our educated audience and are committed to ensuring we continue to provide you all with the relevant knowledge to support our diverse collection of wines both here at Specialist Cellars, and at our bar in Pop Brixton, as well as at The Laundry Restaurant.
In order to be classified as vegan, a wine either needs to have undergone zero fining or filtration, or to have been fined/filtered using vegan friendly products! Traditionally producers have tended to favour the likes of egg whites, casein, gelatin and isinglass (fish bladder) to filter their wines and achieve clarity in the glass.
If you look at many of the great Old World estates, their wines are unknowingly vegan, their winemakers feeling that fining and filtration strips some of the vitality from the wine. We’re very pleased to note that many of our Antipodean producers also subscribe to this method, or lack thereof, in the winery, or are producing wines with as gentle handling as possible!
We’ve sampled a selection of wines that have been produced with a vegan stamp of approval, and we believe the vegan examples in our New World collection have been produced without affecting the final product of quality. There are several agents that can be used, most of which use bentonite, (clay based) or carbon, (activated charcoal) but there are many other elements and products that can be used with a natural fining ability including vegetables, ie; potatoes and peas. (crazy, right?)
The best method for producers not wanting to fine or filter at all is the employ cold-settling, or several gentle racking stages prior to bottling. These are two relatively gentle methods of aiding clarification.
ORGANIC WINE, BIODYNAMIC WINE, VEGAN WINE | ARE THEY THE SAME THING?
A wine does not need to be organic to be vegan, nor is it required to be biodynamic. There are some non vegan-friendly fining agents that can be used for organic and biodynamic wines, but not every wine that is vegan is organic.
As Veganism continues to come to prominence, and more and more people fully or partially embrace it into their lifestyles it is extremely important that we understand and explain the intricacies when it comes to wine.
Currently we have more than 100 wines that are vegan in our shop, in a range of styles to suit all palates and budgets. It’s so good to see so many producers making wines in this minimal intervention style.
WHY DRINK VEGAN??
Personally I’m a massive fan of wines produced with as little manipulation as possible, and tend to agree with those producers who feel that fining and filtration can remove a certain vitality from the wine. However sometimes this is not for the faint of heart! These bottles will often throw a large sediment or cloud in the glass, and require careful cellaring so as not to spoil. I’d recommend making sure you allow the wine to settle in the bottle before opening, and chilling the wine down will aid this clarification process – a quick experiment you can do at home!
It also helps that some of my favourite producers at the moment are producing vegan friendly wines. The likes of Clonakilla, Cullen, Dog Point, Felton Road and Seresin are all making lively, fresh and balanced wines, capable of ageing and improving in the bottle!
You’ll notice that there are an increasing number of vegan wines being produced in the ‘orange’ and ‘natural’ categories. The likes of Mother Rock, Ochota Barrels and Millton have mastered this realm and are well worth a look if you’re feeling adventurous.
Happy (clean) drinking!