What are the characteristics of organic wines?

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While conventional wines have always been favoured by consumers, organic wines are on the rise in a society that is increasingly seeking authenticity in its consumer habits. According to Agence Bio, the consumption of certified organic wines in France is increasing steadily, not to mention the number of winemakers going green every year. Organic viticulture accounts for nearly 9% of France’s wine country in terms of surface area. So, what are the reasons for this success? Maison Calvet explains how to recognise an organic wine and its characteristics.

What is an organic wine?

An organic wine is a wine produced using winemaking and viticulture that fully complies with the regulations of organic agriculture. Considered an environmentally-friendly product, it takes account of climate protection, biodiversity, soil fertility and human health.
In other words, an organic wine means no insecticides and herbicides, no synthetic treatments and a reduction in added tannins. While there are organic wines that do not contain sulphites, organic wines may still contain limited quantities for conservation reasons.

3 main characteristics of organic wines to remember

Organic viticulture

In order to qualify for the organic designation, the grower must undertake a 36-month conversion period for the estate in order to purify the land and the vines. They also have to follow a number of rules on managing vineyard, such as avoiding all GMOs, fertilisers and synthetic chemicals. The vine-soil-environment system is a holistic approach that entirely fulfils the criteria of organic farming.

Organic winemaking

Just like certified organic vines, organic wine is subject to specifications for each stage of winemaking. Here are some of the requirements:

  • 100% of the agricultural ingredients used must be certified organic;
  • a limitation of oenological inputs and a restriction of the total SO2

In addition, several practices are strictly prohibited, such as heating to more than 70°C or dealcoholisation.

The main certifications

There are currently different certifications for organic wines:

  • the AB (Organic Agriculture) certification which certifies that a wine is organic in France;
  • the European Organic certification, its equivalent in the European Union.

What are the differences between an organic wine, a natural wine and a biodynamic wine?

To better understand the different nuances, a natural wine is defined by a complete absence of any oenological input, unlike organic wine with AB certification.
Biodynamic wines are organic wines with even stricter specifications. Biodynamic certification means that the winemaker has followed nature’s key cycles, such as the lunar calendar, as well as working the soil in perfect harmony with the land and the vine.

— Monday 9 October 2023 by Olivier