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“Buying an organic wine it is to encourage an agriculture that respects the environment in order to preserve biodiversity and soil fertility…”
The definition of an Organic Wine
An organic wine is quite simply a wine made from cultivated grapes and whose vinification respects the principle of organic farming.
- In the vineyard, the use of fertilizers or chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, etc.) is prohibited.
- In the cellar, to vinify this type of wine, only oenological inputs of natural origins are authorized. There’s still quite a lot of left… Here is the full list:
Citric acid / L(+) tartaric acid / L-ascorbic acid / Lactic acid / Metatartaric acid / Egg albumin (Ovalbumin) / Self-enrichment by evaporation / Self-enrichment by reverse osmosis / Lactic acid bacteria / Bentonite / Potassium bisulphite / Metabisulphite potassium / Potassium bicarbonate / Calcium carbonate / Potassium caseinate / Casein / Oenological carbon / Copper citrate / Fish glue / Thiamine dihydrochloride / Silicon dioxide (silica gel) / Yeast shells / Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation / Gelatin / Gum arabic / Di-ammonium hydrogen phosphate (diammonium phosphate) / Potassium hydrogen tartrate (Cream of tartar) / Active dry yeasts (LSA) / Plant-based protein materials from wheat or peas / Cross-flow microfiltration / Pieces of oak wood / Concentrated must / Rectified concentrated must / Enzymatic preparations (pectinases) / Sucrose (Sugar) / Copper sulphate / Oenological tannins es / Neutral potassium tartrate / Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
How to Recognize an Organic Wine?
In France, to recognize an organic wine, just refer to the different logos that can be displayed on the label of the wine bottle.
The Main Labels:
- The AB label (Organic Agriculture): This is the main label recognized in France attesting to a wine that it is organic.
- The European BIO label: This certification is the equivalent of the AB label for the entire European zone.
- The BIO Cohérence label: Bio Cohérence is a private label created by a community of producers, believing that the specifications of the AB label are not strict enough. In particular, they require that the farm be 100% organic.
- Nature & Progrès: Just like Bio Cohérence, Nature & Progrès has a more demanding charter than that of AB (especially in the dose of sulfur dioxide (SO2) authorized). Note that it is the first organic label created in France (in 1964)!
The history of the AB label
The AB label was created in France in 1985. Regarding the wine area, until 2012, a wine bearing the AB label only guaranteed that this wine came from organic viticulture. That is to say, only the method of growing the vine was taken into account, and not the vinification. Concretely, this meant the possibility of having wines made from organically grown grapes, but to which synthetic chemicals were added during vinification. In 2012, the specifications changed, the vinification method is now taken into account for the AB label.
Controversies around the AB Label:
As we have seen previously, private entities have been created, because many players believe that the AB label does not push the approach far enough. Here are some examples of points that are debating:
- Failure to take into account the size of farms or the conditions for hiring agricultural workers
- Authorization of 0.9% GMO contamination rate
- Too high a dose of sulfites allowed in wine
- Too many inputs allowed during vinification…
Organic Wine: Frequently Asked Questions
Are Organic Wines Sulphite Free?
An organic wine is not necessarily a wine without added sulphites. It can be, but the organic farming label authorizes the winegrower to sell red wines with 100 mg / l of total SO2, and rosé and white wines with 150 mg / l of total SO2. To make sure that an organic wine does not contain added sulphites, the words “no added sulfites” are written on the label.
What is the Difference Between an Organic and Biodynamic Wine?
A biodynamic wine is just like an organic wine made from cultivated grapes and whose vinification respects the principle of organic farming. But the difference between an organic and biodynamic wine is that biodynamics pushes the ecological approach further with an esoteric dimension in addition (the influence of the force of attraction of the stars is taken into account).
For more information, we advise you to read our article “organic wine vs biodynamic wine“.
Is an organic wine a natural wine?
The answer is no ! An organic wine is not necessarily a natural wine. But a natural wine is at least an organic wine. As we explained previously, the organic farming label authorizes up to 150 mg/l of sulphites in wines, and more than 80 oenological inputs… While a natural wine pushes the approach much further! Only 30 mg/l of sulfite is allowed, nothing else… That makes a big difference…!
Taste an organic wine
How to Taste an Organic Wine?
Organic wine is tasted like any other wine. However, if it has a low dose of sulfite, it may smell bad or fizz when opened. Don’t panic, it’s not definitive. If it is unpleasant for you, in these cases, just aerate it for a few minutes (in a carafe if possible), and these undesirable sides will disappear.
Millesime Bio Fair
In france, if you are curious and want to taste a large number of organic wines, we advise you to go to the millésime bio fair. It is by far the largest organic wine fair in France, bringing together nearly 1,500 winegrowers each year. This annual event usually takes place in Montpellier (Parc des Expositions) at the end of January.
Buy an Organic Wine
Why buy an organic wine?
Sulphites are classified among the 14 major allergens that can cause headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea … Buying an organic wine therefore means reducing the health risks associated with sulphites since they contain less of it. In addition, it is to encourage an agriculture that respects the environment in order to preserve biodiversity and soil fertility.
How to Choose a Good Organic Wine?
What is a good organic wine? This is a very difficult question to answer… Taste is something very personal. And a good organic wine for an aperitif with friends, perhaps a bad wine for a meal… Choosing a good organic wine first means taking into account the context in which it will be drunk.
Where to Buy Organic Wine?
In town, you will find many cellars offering organic wine. But if you want to have more choice or if you have a cuvée, a particular winemaker in mind, you will have better luck ordering on the internet. Visit our “Online Wine” page to find what you’re looking for. Cheers !