Organic wine is very popular !
What is an organic product?
It's a natural companion to wine. They are often surrounded by a lot of misunderstanding. Indeed, beyond simplistic arguments ("more expensive" or "more natural") one can ask the question "what is really behind the "AB" label and logo?". The answer can be given in terms of production methods or in regulatory terms, the two being linked. In order to be entitled to display the logo that indicates an "Organic" product, all stages of the product's life must comply with the relevant regulations. This of course has an impact on the methods used for its production. Generally speaking, organic farming can be defined as a method of production that finds its originality in the use of farming and breeding practices that respect natural balances. A product from organic farming is either an agricultural product or a foodstuff. The method of production excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs and limits the use of inputs (products brought to the land and crops such as fertilizers, insecticides, etc. ...).ulfites or sulfur (or SO2) have 4 main properties :
Cultural practices therefore favour :
- crop rotation. Alternating cultivation of legumes, green manure or deep-rooted plants to promote fertility and biological activity.
- the recycling of natural organic materials. Incorporation into the soil of organic matter and livestock by-products from a farm operated under organic production methods.
- biological control.
- thermal or mechanical weeding (weeding harrow, hoeing, etc...).
In order for the product to be eligible for the organic label, the rest of the chain must also comply with a specific set of specifications:
- Regulated composition of processed products. At least 70% of the ingredients of agricultural origin in the final product must be organic, the additional percentage being part of a list of permitted ingredients of agricultural origin.
- Treatment of products from organic farming that must not use chemical substances other than those authorised.
- No use of treatment with ionizing radiation.
- Transport in closed packages and/or containers to avoid substitution.
What's an organic wine?
It is often not easy to distinguish organic wine from conventional wine. Many consumers believe that a wine is by definition a natural product made from fermented grape juice. Moreover, the lack of information on the label reinforces this idea! Only regulatory and administrative information appears, such as geographical indications (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée).
Who authorises a product to use the words "organic"?
Private and state-approved certification bodies. There are 9 in France: Ecocert (which carries out 80% of controls), Agrocert, Qualité-France. Certipaq bio, Certisud, Certis, Bureau Alpes Controles, Qualisud, Biotek. Their technicians control the production, processing and distribution sites while ensuring that they comply with the specifications by observing practices, checking accounting or technical documents and carrying out analyses if necessary. Health safety is one of their priorities (search for mycotoxins, traces of antibiotics, dioxins or other pollutants). These controls, carried out at all stages of food production, are unannounced and must take place at least twice a year.
The name or code of the certification body must appear on all organic products. All operators must also notify the Agence Bio.
Who's being checked?
The winegrower, the producer, the breeder... Each year, the latter notifies his program by parcel to his certifying body. Accounts must be kept for the raw materials purchased (type, quantity, origin, use, etc.), as well as for the agricultural products sold.
But also the processor and the distributor. At each stage the raw materials, right up to the finished product, are checked. Thus, Organic Farming is the agriculture that offers consumers the best guarantees. Residue is greater than 2 g/l.
A bit of history about organic wine
Organic wine, before 2012
Strictly speaking, there was no such thing as "organic wine", but wines made from grapes "from organic farming".
Indeed, French regulations only draw up specifications for the management of the vineyard. The specifications used by organic wine producers prohibit, among other things, the use of synthetic fertilizers or phytosanitary products, as well as chemical products. The objective of winemaker which produces an organic wine is to maximise the vine's defences in order to limit treatments as much as possible. Against classical diseases such as mildew or oidium, winemaker will use sulphur or copper-based treatments generally.
The great care taken by an "organic winegrower" in the vineyard requires a lot of time. Producing a so-called organic wine requires 20% to 30% more labour compared to a conventional wine. It takes a minimum of 3 years to obtain organic certification, during which time the vineyard is said to be in "organic conversion".
Organic wine, after 2012
The European Commission voted a text at the beginning of 2012 concerning the regulation of organic wines. From 2012, to make an organic wine, it is no longer enough to have organic grapes. It is also necessary to have a vine with specifications during vinification.
The maximum sulphite content of organic wine is set at 100 mg per litre for red wine (150 mg/l for conventional wine) and 150 mg/l for organic white and rosé wine (200 mg/l for conventional wine). Very high levels that will delight the organic wine industry. However, they will not change much for the conscientious winemakers involved in the process. It's a pity that the law is so non-restrictive, especially on the use of exogenous yeasts...
Consumers who believe they are buying organic wine because it better represents their terroir will be getting their money's worth. Thanks to exogenous yeasts, winegrowers will be able (as they have been doing for decades) to give the 'tastes' they want.
To see the 'glass half full', regulations are finally emerging on the vinification of organic wines. It took months of discussion, however, to give birth to a (little) mouse. Let's hope, for everyone's health, that in time the European Commission will strengthen this legislative framework.
Some information to illustrate the success of organic wine
Organic wine in France has come a long way in recent years. Our beloved country is in the top trio of the largest producers of organic wines despite THE limited share of its vineyards devoted to it (8%).
On a global scale, the trend is also the same: the number of organic wine lovers is growing: +22% consumption in 2015!
This love for organic wine is confirmed by the growing success of Millésime Bio, a trade fair entirely dedicated to organic wine, which has been held every year in Montpellier since 1993.
Giving figures is good, explaining them is better! We'll come to that.
Organic wine, synonymous with quality and passion!
While we had to wait until 2012 to see the birth of the "Organic Wine" certification, the growing love of the French (and foreigners!) finds its origin in several explanations.
It is first of all the recognition of the work of passionate people. If we should not exclude the winegrowers who are not certified organic, those who favour organic viticulture have in common that they love their vines. So much so that they pay the greatest attention to it. It takes more time and work to produce an organic wine, because the winemaker will do away with the use of phytosanitary products, which is always complex. This environmental responsibility also weighs heavily in the balance of these organic wine enthusiasts.
The passion, quality and civic-mindedness linked to organic wine have finally reached the wine lovers.
At home or in restaurants, organic wine from the most beautiful wine-growing regions of France, accompanies convivial moments with products for all tastes.