Organic wines are becoming more and more popular by the day. In the wine aisles of our local bottle shops we are now seeing the terms; organic, biodynamic, preservative free and natural wine floating around. But what do they mean?
Here are some simple definitions to get you started:
- Organic wine: Means the wine is made by the principle of organic farming, which typically means the exclusion of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and artificial chemical fertilizers.
- Biodynamic wine: Biodynamic farming treats the vineyard as a living system. It’s the ideal of ever-increasing ecological self-sufficiency and ethical-spiritual considerations. Think soil fertility, healthy plant growth and working with the rhythms of the cosmos.
- Preservative free wine: Preservative free wine, means that no preservatives were added during the winemaking process. However the term doesn’t really acknowledge that during the winemaking process sulphur dioxide is released which is a natural preservative. So we really should say ‘No preservatives added’ – for more information, check out my preservative free wine guide
- Natural wine: This has different meanings to everyone and I’ll be getting an experts opinion below….
Recently I was gifted 2 bottles of Freehand Wines from Western Australia’s Great Southern region. Matt Eastwell is a young innovative winemaker who has created preservative free wine from biodynamic grapes out of their small, family owned boutique winery.
As Matt coins it, his wines under the label “Freehand Wines” are classed as ‘natural wines’. I really wanted to find out from Matt, what his definition of natural wines is, here is what he said..
“The definition of Natural Wine is a contentious issue. My personal definition of Natural wine is 100% biodynamic/organic grapes ideally grown by the vigneron/winemaker, made using zero additions of sulfites in the winery”.
There are 4 different wines in the Freehand range which includes 1 white, a Semillon and 3 reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a Shiraz. There are various vintages available at the moment, even a Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to 2002. You can check them out on the Freehand Wines website.
Matt was a lead guitarist in original Perth bands when he decided to combine his love of creativity with his passion for drinking wine. in 2000 his wine journey began when he enrolled in a Winemaking & Grapegrowing Bachelors Degree course at Curtin University in the Margaret River Wine Region.
After finishing his degree he went halves with his parents in a small vineyard with great promise in the Great Southern region of WA. The idea was to grow the grapes, sell them off until a point where the Eastwell’s could start-up a winery of their own. However push came to shove and the unpredictability of grape contracts lead the family to start-up the winery sooner than they had planned. Eastwell Estate was born.
The winery slowly made their way towards becoming a biodynamic grower to making their wine with the addition of zero sulfites a process Matt picked up from a good friend who owns a small winery in the Porongorups.
Soon enough Matt become a natural wine convert and even now he finds it hard to drink wine which has had sulphite additions. I love this quote from Matt, “the purity of what we can make with exceptional organic/biodynamic grown fruit, and minimal intervention and maximum attention in the winery constantly amazes me”.
They’re young, innovative and are producing some great wines. Here are my tasting notes for the Freehand Wines I’ve tasted:
Freehand 2013 Semillon
It’s such a pretty colour this one, it’s a tangerine golden colour on the eye. On the nose I picked up whiffs of mandarins, peaches, white chocolate and an undertone of wet stones and some baking spice. It busts onto the palate with flavours of a tropical fruit salad, think lychee, dragon fruit and ripe peach. There’s a lot of flavour upfront and then it dies fairly quickly but leaves an itch in the back of your throat which leaves you salivating for the next mouthful.
Freehand 2011 Merlot
On the eye the colour of this drop is virtually opaque, it’s a deep red burgundy velvet colour. On the nose I picked up aromas of tar, black jelly beans and dark stewed plums. In the mouth it is juicy, delicious and well-balanced with a bitter dark chocolate finish. Such a full-bodied goddess of a Merlot this is. I need to get some more asap!
If you’re interested in trying the Freehand Wines you can buy them via the Freehand online store or here are a list of stockists in Perth and WA. Likewise for more information on their winemaking techniques and to keep up to date with Matt and team check out the Freehand Wines website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.