The EU has already dumbed down the organic wine market, making the way for organic additives. Now, they are headed for the natural. I offer you the next big wine thing.
Sulfite substitutions aimed at either reducing or eliminating the 'need' for the demonized element.
Since 2004 there's been EU bucks behind this research and the celebratory studies, products and eager additive salespeople are hitting the market.
Originally aimed at the rare customer with bona fide sulfite allergy, now there's another customer: the misguided who believes these products give them the path to make a natural wine.
In 2012 the French book, Les Grands Vin Sans Sulfites was published. Inside? Techniques for industrial non-sulfite wine. One of the products being flogged was a combination of 'beneficial' yeasts called Primaflora. Here's what a kid I know who worked on the research had to tell me about it a few years back.
Primaflora is the non sacharomices yeast/selected lactic bacteria/high on gluthanion yeast wall cells mix Mr Imelée advocates in his book Grand Vins Sans Sulfites. You prepare it like an LSA and you add it at the bin in the harvested grapes as soon as possible, then you encuve your grapes or press them and then you ferment. In theory the Primaflora (136€/500 grs) act as a biological fight on the grapes blocking brett and acetobacters. The thing works.
Pierre Sanchez, an enologist who consults with a lot of those working naturally, such as Patrick Meyer, had a different take on it. To him it's not so much snake oil as it is venom.
Primaflora is a mix of friendly microorganisms supposed to colonize the wicked micro organisms.
Ill let you feel the deep anthropocentric bullshit.
Maybe it works on grapes stunned and sterilized with napalm-like treatments, but in organic farming and healthy grapes? It is a complex bio protection monkey natural and effective complex ecosystem.
In other words, works? Perhaps. Expensive like the other options, yes. But ideologically, why add a mix of yeasts when the ethos of natural wine is native fermentation?
Because the natural world has been grossly confused with no-sulfite added. Towards the supposedly better, sulfur-free world, there's a tannin product derived from grape pips.
Another company is making a soup of enzymes staring lysozyme (a fairly toxic enzyme derived from egg whites.)
One California winery presenting their wines at the natural California winemaker tasting last November called Califermentation, has a 'natural' line extension of their more mainstream wine. Even though they make no mention of organic farming or no-additive winemaking they are happy to say they are the first to use a Swiss developed technology that's based on black radish--a heavy antioxidant (wait, isn't the grape a big antioxidant on its own?)
Then he went to the other heavily researched product that goes by the name of Sulphree, made by the Swiss company, Biomas.
Obviously the Protos is an extract of black radish!" Wrote Pierre to me. "With anti-oxidant power! It seems strange to me that this is even permitted by the oenological codex. This kind of products are often very often oenological treatments very expensive compared to the use of sulfur.Vendors of this type of soup sell an alternative product, (their message is) "You can not make wine without SO2 without replacing it with something.
But you can. There are plenty who do it and do it well. You can work well in the vineyard, clean in the winery, leave it out or reduce it to its bare minimum. You can leave the Campden tabs alone and investigate volcanic sulfur and use that gently.But was this the result of all of this emphasis on what is a natural wine?
Lower the sulfur or eliminate it, but make more conscious wine.
That should be the real #2016 wine trend.
If you care about drinking real natural, then you will want to subscribe to The Feiring Line. Just do it. #winetrend2016