Natural, Natty, Ancestral, Low Intervention, Minimal Intervention or Zero/Zero
Natural Wines are nothing new. In fact, they showcase the oldest forms of wine making Millennia old. Quite simply it's grape juice, organically farmed, naturally fermented with nothing added and nothing removed in the cellar. Simple? Not exactly...
Conventional wine making has been heavily impacted by advancements in modern agriculture. Post WW2 saw the explosion in the use of pesticides and manufactured chemical additives and flavour enhancements. So much so, that your typical supermarket wine can contain up to 72 different additives! None of which need to be declared on the label. In an age where we are more conscious about our supply chains and where our food comes from, many would be shocked to know what's in their wine (Bulls urine and fish guts anyone?!)
Sulphur. Often attributed to hangovers and that groggy feeling the morning after. The reality is, it's more likely one of the other 72 additives that people normally react to (egg whites, crustacean shells or even blood!). In the US, Sulphur use is limited to 350ppm. In the EU it's 160ppm for Red and 210ppm for White and Rose. Now Sulphur is not the devil, it's a naturally occurring compound that is great for preserving and sealing wine. However it can rob the wine of some of its life. Therefore Natural Wine makers will try to limit its use as much as possible, typically 10% of traditional levels, 10-30ppm. The ultimate aim is for zero Sulphur (zero/zero) however this makes the wine just too unstable to be widely commercially available.
The aim of a Natural Wine is to express the truest form of terroir and grape or, as Alice Feiring describes in Natural Wine For The People, "Natural Wine is wine without the crap in it."