Wine regulation is extraordinarily old and documentation of it appears in many historical records (Plinius, Columella etc.). Over the past three centuries, various standards have been gradually formed and periodically revised and developed. During the last century, laws aimed at defining, in some detail, wine and everything concerning its origin and production methods began to appear almost everywhere. To this end, highly scientific committees (universities, research centres, private companies) with different areas of expertise were formed, along with, of course, the extraordinary contribution of producers and industry professionals.
The coordination of a lot of work has immediately required the involvement of national and regional authorities in order to structure and consolidate everything and compare it with the outside. Hence the worldwide accredited institution is called O.I.V.. These steps are critical to the credibility and validity of the work already completed and yet to be performed.
The regulations involving wine are so precise, down to the smallest details, that we cannot completely ignore them when addressing the topic of “natural” wine discipline. The appropriate professionalism is required to begin to approach this sector and establish fruitful collaborations with those who have had full knowledge for a long time.
Man, in the course of his history, has always cultivated the vine and wine has always existed. In fact, “natural” wine accompanies the history of human agriculture. This does not mean that the wines were “good”. Indeed many of them plenty of defects, including the inability to age. “Farmer’s wine”, has excelled often more for its flaws than for its quality and only a few have managed to do well. But it is above all through technical and scientific knowledge that great progress has been made and contributed to the huge success of wine. Unfortunately there are also some who have abused the new opportunities offered by technology and research by “building” products that are not worthy of the wonderful history of wine.
Any regulation must begin with how and where the grapes are produced. Then detailed analysis of the agronomic side and management of the vineyard must be made, including the most fundamental moment – the harvest decision. It is also crucial that the origin of the grape be fully traceable back to the artisan producer, who must assume responsibility for it.
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Natural, raw wine could, little by little, leave behind this definition, entered into the common language despite having poor or no scientific validation, and assume terms that are more transparent and acceptable on the market.
Today we live a moment governed by the desire to launch news, almost always with little depth, instead of trying to prove the facts. This situation, if in the short term, gives notoriety, can harm in the medium term. We need to build a future for the sector with a solid foundation and great seriousness. It’s time to talk solidly and without conflicts of interest of all shapes and species, in particular of a commercial nature, in order to preserve the whole movement and not just a few.
For instance, we should make an important and urgent request for legislative amendment concerning the volatile acidity level, currently defined in far too confined values caused by the use, sometimes massive and not declared, of SO2, a product harmful to our health. Today, many natural wines exceed the level of volatile acidity permitted by current global standards and are therefore illegal. This would represent a major legislative step towards which effort is needed, especially to scientifically demonstrate that volatile acidity is not critical, if correctly balanced within the complexity of the wine. This theme further corroborates the thesis that to produce ’organic-natural’ wines is a very demanding endeavour, nor can it be achieved with any variety, in any environment or under any climatic conditions.
For these reasons, and others, it is crucial to propose rules and disciplines that are not extemporaneous individual initiatives, but backed by serious institutions and underpinned by robust scientific basis.