Sulphite free wine, which is also organic and biodynamic, is now available in the UK through the UK’s leading specialist low sulphite wine merchant, www.goodwineonline.co.uk.
Firstly, just to explain the technical definitions, ‘sulphite free wine’ is a layman’s term, which should be more accurately called ‘no added sulphur wine’ or ‘no added preservative wine’, purely because tiny amounts of bound sulphur are a natural biproduct of the fermentation process, so there is no such thing as a sulphite free wine. These tiny amounts of bound sulphur are harmless, it’s the added free sulphur which can cause allergic reactions in sulphite intolerant people, so these wines can safely be regarded as ‘sulphite free’.
www.goodwineonline.co.uk have specialised in low sulphite wines for a couple of years, but are very excited by these latest additions to their portfolio, as good quality sulphite free wine is as rare as hen’s teeth. There are a handful of wineries around the world who produce wines with no added sulphur, but most of these wines are pretty poor quality. Goodwineonline have always specialised in top quality, award winning boutique wines, which by their nature are hand made with pride, and a minimal amount of additives. Now they’ve partnered up with a unique winery called Domaine Viret in the northern Rhone Valley.
Domaine Viret, owned by father and son – Alain and Philippe Viret, is a unique concept in wine making. They have developed their own system called ‘cosmoculture’ which is a combination of advanced biodynamic principles with traditonal respect for the land, nature and natural energy. They use the earth’s natural magnetic field and the cell structure of water to transfer this energy to their vines – it’s a highly complex approach which some traditional winemakers may consider a little eccentric, but it has amazing results. Oz Clarke described their wines as ‘cosmic nectar’.
On the biodynamic side of cosmoculture, they produce their own ‘plant food’ for the vines from 14 different plants on the estate. Each plant lends a different property to the mix, so with 14 different plants it takes some expertise to get it right. Lavendar for example, has been used for milennia as an antiseptic, and so forth with all the other ingredients. They’ve studied plant microbiology and adopted trusted philosophies from tradional oriental herbal medicine, the Aborigines and even the Red Indians.
Their wines are quite simply amazing. Philippe’s approach isn’t just about making a wine with no added sulphur, nor is it about just making a wine with great flavour. It’s about making a wine which is complete – it tastes great, has good balance and is actively good for you. They all have a real purity, an absence of chemicals, that you really notice and which may make it difficult for you to revert to drinking normal wines again! The acidity is beautifully balanced as Philippe explains it’s not just about the flavour, but the whole experience of drinking the wine – it should be agreeable to your whole body not just your taste buds.
This labour intensive method of hand production restricts Domaine Viret to only making a limited amount of wine, around 10 000 cases per year. As these are distributed globally there isn’t much to go round, so Goodwineonline consider themselves very fortunate to have secured regular supply.
Checkout Domaine Viret’s website for more details on Cosmoculture.