Globally we’re seeing two big trends in wine production – vegan-friendly wines and so-called natural wines.
It’s during the fining / clarification process that animal products may be used to settle out fine sediment before bottling in order to leave the wine clear and bright. This could be albumen (egg white), casein (milk protein) or isinglass (derived from fish). The most common alternative is bentonite (clay). Many producers prefer to let the wines settle naturally prior to bottling and these wines are labelled as unfined while some leave the wine slightly cloudy (many natural wine producers).
Beeswax and agglomerated corks made using milk-based glues are also avoided.
Although there is certification available, there is a cost involved (as there is for organic or biodynamic); so many producers don’t make it official.
What is natural wine?
A simple explanation is that natural wine is pure, fermented grape juice from fruit farmed organically or bio-dynamically.
Most natural wines are made by small, independent producers. Most of these are exported, but the local market is growing. Limited quantities are available and the wines sell out quickly. In SA these wines are often labeled as ‘alternative white’.
– The vines are farmed organically or bio-dynamically
– The grapes are harvested by hand
– No yeast is added
– No enzymes added
– Unfined / unfiltered
– Little to no sulphites added
Natural wine is the untamed cousin of commercial wine – may be cloudy, may be more yeasty and the flavour and aroma profiles tend to be more restrained compared to their commercial cousins. The wines also show little to no oak influence. Under natural wine, there is a growing interest in ORANGE WINE which is a skin-contact white wine (skin macerated). Instead of pressing the grapes and fermenting the juice only, the juice ferments with the skins for a period of time. Simply put it’s a white wine made like a red wine. Generally, natural wines are vegan, but not all vegan wines are natural.
SA producers of natural wines include Craig and Carla Hawkins (Testalonga), Jurgen Gouws (Intellego Wines), Johan Meyer (Platteklip Vineyards, JH Meyer Wines and Mother Rock), Mick and Jeanine Craven (Craven Wines), Craig Sheard (Elemental Bob), Ryan Mostert (Smiley / Silwervis /Terra Cura), MC Stander (l’Equinox Wines), Adriaan van Zyl, Mark Stephens (Deep Rooted Wines), Krige Visser (Arcangeli), Bernard Bredell (Scions of Sinai)
Orange wines in SA include Bosman Fides Grenache Blanc, Testalonga El Bandito Skin, Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave, Testalonga El Bantito Sweet Cheeks, Intellego Elementis, Intellego Sleeping Co-Pilot, Intellego A Story of Harry, Mother Rock Liquid Skin, Craven Pinot Gris, Usana Luck of the Gambler Pinot Gris, Thorne & Daughters Tin Soldier Semillon Gris, Trizanne Signature Wines Sondagskloof Sauvignon Blanc, Fram Grenache Gris, Adriaan van Zyl Muscat d’Alexandre, Wightman & Sons Chenin Blanc, Fairview Obscura Qvevri wines, Avondale Qvevri wines
For current availability and if you are looking for any specific wine, please call us on 021 – 424 5587.
Please note that due to limited availability of these wines, most are not available all year.