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Around the world, the term “natural” is used to describe wines made with little intervention, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. In Western Europe, the initiative has a long history, but in Hungary it is still in its infancy, but the winemakers’ enthusiasm knows no bounds and their fan base is unending.

Natural wines are made in such a way that fermentation takes place with minimal intervention after the grapes are picked, and at most a little sulphite (sulphur) is added during bottling – explains winemaker Patricia Toth. He adds that natural winemakers create an ideal environment where there is a high probability that the grapes will encounter only yeasts, so that high-quality natural wines can be produced. “If grapes meet yeast, they become wine, and if they meet yeast and bacteria, acetic acid can be formed. Over thousands of years, winemaking has developed in such a way that humans have accompanied the processes all the time, so human intervention is the basis for making wine from grapes, not vinegar.”

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In Italy, natural wine growing has a long history, and there have been producers who have been making wine this way for more than 40 years, says the winemaker. The initiative has a long history in Western Europe as well, where neighboring Austria has grown into a true natural wine superpower. Also in Hungary, more and more people are dealing with natural wines, the initial enthusiasm does not die down, but it is worth planning for the long term: because you have to count on more than ten years of yield.

As well as the number of vineyards certified organic in Austria over the past 30 years More than double, now represents 13% of the country’s vineyard area. In comparison, less than 3% of California vineyards are certified organic, and more than 30% of Italian vineyards are organic.

Moscato grape harvest near Alessandria in northwest Italy

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Biodynamic agriculture is also based on Austrian Rudolf Steiner’s 1924 lecture series, but this means not only that it is chemical-free, it also means a more complex and holistic approach.

Natural wine is not necessarily made from organic or biodynamic grapes. In our country, natural wine is defined under the Wine Code as wine, sparkling wine or champagne,

  • The grapes used in its production have an organic certificate issued by an accredited certification organization (hereinafter: Certification Organization) recognized to certify the requirements of organic farming, and are harvested exclusively by hand;
  • Which has been produced in a winery with a certificate of organic processing activities issued by a certification body;
  • During its production, only the following processes may be used in winemaking: aeration or addition of gaseous oxygen, and the use of carbon dioxide, argon or nitrogen, either alone or in combination, in order to create a neutral atmosphere and process the product. Protected from air, use maximum SO2 up to a total SO2 content of 40 mg/L;
  • Which can only be sold in glass bottles, bags in boxes or KEG kegs; And
  • Which has an environmental certificate from the certification body.

“Regulation is primarily in the interest of natural wine producers, because it is necessary to filter out wines of different quality from others for the whole movement to be successful,” says the winemaker. Minimal human intervention, by regulating temperature and sulfur and directing the vine in a suitable direction, so that it remains more durable and stable, for example, during travel.

Patricia Toth works in a winery that grows grapes organically on a total area of ​​370 hectares in Sicily, representing the traditional form of winemaking. However, he believes that “in the long term, wineries that represent the traditional line with minimal intervention will succeed, and alongside them, more meticulous natural winemakers can remain successful.” These two opinions are not far from each other.

There are drawbacks to making natural wine. “Although they can be very tasty when eaten locally, they are very sensitive to transportation conditions. They are not protected from the effects of heat during travel, they can become shiny, or in the worst cases, infections can start in them.” Wine can turn sour in the glass, which is less protected against oxidation (air contact), and microbiological problems can also occur, which is no longer acceptable according to the winemaker.




According to Patricia Toth, traditional, natural and cooperative wineries have a place in the system. Maintaining cooperative cellars also addresses labor shortages, while helping small producers survive.

Organic and biodynamic wines are featured in the book by Isabel Legeron, A Natural winewhich was published by HVG Publishing House.




HVG


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