All natural wine should come from organic vines, meaning any herbicides, pesticides or fungicides not approved by NASAA (The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia) cannot be used on the fruit.
Try: Gentle Folk Wines’ Blossoms 2015
Organic vineyards are the starting point, but many natural winemakers use biodynamic practices too, such as farming according to moon cycles, and the fermentation of cow manure to promote soil fertility and balance.
Try: Manon Wines’ She Blushes Gris 2015
Fermentation leaves wine with a cloudy hue, caused by very fine particles. The conventional processes of filtration and fining (using fish proteins, egg whites and clay) removes these particles for clarity – but they also remove flavour. Most natural wines simply skip this process.
Try: Commune of Buttons’ ABCD Chardonnay 2016
Sulphur dioxide is the main preserving agent in modern winemaking, and it’s usually what gives you a headache the next day. Natural wines only have small amounts of sulphur, if any.
Try: Lucy Margaux’s sauvignon blanc 2016 (zero added sulphur)
Parts per million (PPM)
PPM measures the milligrams of sulphur per litre of wine. Natural wine usually has under 20PPM, while most conventional wines have additions between 50 and 150PPM. Cheap sparkling wines are very high in sulphur.
Try: Jauma’s Peekaboo Fizz (zero added sulphur)
Each variety has a different flavour profile, which is shaped by removing or adding the components of the grapes – skins, stalks, seeds and juice. It’s the varying amounts of time these elements are in the mix (skin contact) that produces the colourful hues of pink, purple and amber wines. Red wines have longer skin contact than white wines. White wines left on skins longer produce orange wine.
Try: Shobbrook Wines’ Giallo 2016 (sauvignon blanc with longer skin contact)
Pét nat (pétilant naturel)
A real flagship for natural wines. It’s a new wine style, so a lot of people still don’t know what it is. It’s sparkling wine that’s bottled while it’s still fermenting (as opposed to champagne, which is carbonated before it's bottled), so it’s been known to explode in the cellar.
Try: The Other Right’s Bright Young Pink 2015
Vin de France
It has become a badge of honour for French natural wines to simply write “Vin de France” on their labels, instead of naming the region. The idea is that it’s not about appellation codes but rather pursuing something delicious.
Try: Domaine Les Deux Terres’ Vin Nu 2014 (available at La Buvette)
Jasper Button is a winemaker at Commune of Buttons and part owner of The Summertown Aristologist in Summertown.
This piece first appeared in Broadsheet Adelaide's Autumn print issue.