As we approach the 2017 vintage, we come to a time when decisions must be made regarding the types of wines we want to make. Do we try something new or refine tried and tested processes?
The old man in me wants to keep everything the same. After all what’s wrong with tradition and stability, that is “you know what you’re going to get from Renzaglia Wines year after year”?
So, Sandy, the boys and I have been talking about the idea of introducing an early drinking, preservative free wine to the portfolio. Well, I should say Sam, my oldest, is the main culprit. Preservative free, organic, chemical free, orange, pet nat are names for “new” styles of wine that are today becoming more and more sought after. It’s a bit mind boggling to an older wine guy like me…. why would you want to compromise the longevity of a wine for some kind of “ideology”? Or, maybe there is some substance to these new wine trends and at least one is worth pursuing?
In fact, there is no such thing as a “preservative free” wine. All wines contain preserving agents including tannins, alcohol, acidity, carbon dioxide and, yes you guessed it, sulphites. When winemakers call a wine preservative free, they mean no preservatives have been added, sulphur dioxide or SO2 being the most common. SO2 has been around for centuries and seems to take the blame for most people’s bad reactions to wine; including nausea, headaches and rashes.
Conscious consumerism, as something that has come about in the last decade presents it’s pros and cons. In a very similar manner to the “Gluten Free Movement”, there are people with legitimate allergies to certain additives in wine. But are the rest of the crowd just going along for the ride? In fact, most experts think the phenols in wine (like tannins and flavour compounds) are to blame for people’s negative reactions to wines (red wines being more phenolic).
Organic wine making is widely embraced around the world, I think it is important that people feel the products they are consuming are not born from industrial agriculture and the organic brand provides this piece of mind for many. Organic wines very often contain added preservatives like SO2, fair enough right? Who in the wine community doesn’t want to crack open a wine they made 20 years ago and be awe struck that it is still drinking well.
We, at Renzaglia Wines, have made many changes to our grape growing and winemaking practices to minimise unnecessary chemicals and revitalise the soils.
As we move forward in our vineyard management practices, one top priority is holistic management of the land, as we build an ecosystem that supports all types of life (spiders, beetles, kangaroos, etc.) we hope the resilience of our sites will too develop and in turn nullify the need to use chemicals. Whilst we do not brand ourselves as organic, our philosophy and resolve to produce high quality wine in a holistic and sustainable manner is at the core of what we do.