What is vegan wine?
This may sound obvious as no animal products are used as ingredients in wine. However, many wine producers use animal derived agents during the clarifying or fining process. These agents include gelatine (from pig or cow bones), isinglass (fish swim bladders), egg white and milk protein. They are used to remove proteins, yeasts and other items in suspension from the wine and are not actually present in the wine you drink, as they are racked off with the products they've removed before bottling.
Some wines are not fined at all, relying instead either on filtration or natural (gravitational) settling over time, or are fined using bentonite (an inert clay).
Unlike most other wine merchants, our supplier Vinceremos obtain information regarding fining agents and pass this on to their customers. They actively encourage their suppliers to avoid the use of animal products.
Why is organic important?
Organic wines are produced from organically grown grapes and with as little sulphur dioxide as possible. The first improves the health of the soil and the latter reduces intolerant reactions to wine, such as asthma, migraine and skin rashes.
Organic crops are grown in harmony with nature and with very limited or no use of any chemical product, such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, weed killers etc.
In an organic vineyard you'll find other plants, besides the vines. The biodiversity increases the health of the soil and the plants by attracting beneficial insects, spiders and predatory mites.
Organic wines are not always readily identifiable by their labels. However, we hold certification for all our organic products and copies are available for inspection on request.
When a vineyard is to be turned back to organic viticulture, it must go through a process known as re-conversion. A re-conversion takes three years to complete and is a difficult and risky period for the producer. Difficult because there are new practices to adopt, new concepts to understand and new costs to meet. Risky because the vines and the soil take time to readjust, and the risk of disease is highest during this period. On top of that, the reward for all their troubles is likely to be an initial reduction in yield!
The least we as importers can do is to energetically support wine-makers through this phase. So we have no hesitation in selling wines from vineyards in re-conversion.
'I can tell you only that the most succulent and most complex wine grapes I've ever tasted came from a biodynamic vineyard' - Malcolm Gluck, THE GUARDIAN.
Biodynamics is a complex agricultural system based on the writings of Rudolph Steiner. Life forces and circadian rhythms are the focus. The system is working on the premise that the phases of the moon and alignments of the planets affect the way that plants grow. It also incorporates a homeopathic and holistic approach to grape growing.
There has been a considerable interest in this area in the wine press and the phrase 'Super Organic' has become a simplistic way of conveying the message to its reading audience.
Biodynamics is the earliest form of (consciously) organic farming and to some extent was a continuation of mainstream wine-making traditions. Lunar cycles, for example, had long governed the time of pruning the vines and of racking wine from barrel to barrel. Patrick Matthews explains in his excellent book 'Real Wine' how biodynamics is sometimes perceived as a 'finer' system than organic because it takes note of small details and constantly strives for improvement. Certainly it's an approach to wine-making which is attracting some serious and world-wide attention.
'Significantly the argument has shifted from whether it works, to why it works' - Dave Broom, DECANTER.
We have two categories in our Biodynamic range. Those producers who are certified as such, and those who farm biodynamically but for various reasons (often involving cost) have chosen not to get official certification. Each wine is clearly detailed on the site as certified biodynamic or produced biodynamically.
Much talk and considerable column inches have been dedicated to discussing the virtue of the humble cork and its ability to spoil a perfectly good bottle of wine.
Statistics vary, but in the region of one in ten bottles has some form of cork taint. This has given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of bottles appearing with artificial (plastic) corks. Unfortunately, these do not always stop deterioration of the wine and their manufacture and disposal have environmental implications. In recent tests the screw cap came out as one of the best performing closures and despite its lack of aesthetic appeal, it's likely that its us will become widespread.
From our position, we would like producers to continue to use traditional corks - particularly as this will help preserve the cork forests of southern Europe, a precious habitat for wildlife - but only as long as cork quality remains high. If the issue of cork taint can't be satisfactorily dealt with we feel that screw caps are the best alternative.