Natural Winemaking part 3


Hand pressing

Hand pressing

In an attempt to make wine with no added sulphur, some new thoughts came to my mind. Are we actually getting so used to sulphur compounds aromas that we actually judge them as a quality imparting to the so-called complexity of a wine?


I must admit that we have had to burn a wick of sulphur to ensure that the barrels we use to mature the wine are “microbiologically safer”. Not having pressurized hot water or any other “high-tech” devices we used this method, which I believe is used by most wine producers. 


Picture from our friend Jutta

Picture from our friend Jutta


In essence we still don’t add sulphur to the wine, as it is only to “clean” the barrel. I am thus still in line with our challenge and honestly could not see anyway to avoid it.


What crossed my mind is that getting away from sulphur smells in our winery increased my detection threshold of SO2 and I could smell it instantly when we poured the wine in the barrels although I was about 5 meters away standing-up on the press.


Applying 84kg gentle pressure

Applying 84kg gentle pressure

Moreover when I racked myself the wine in the barrel the odour coming to my nostrils reminded me of some highly rated wine that I tried at the Guia Peñin tasting a few days ago.

This is to say that most of these top wines that are rated very highly and tasted so young (mainly 2011 vintage on the market and 2012 in some cases) are so well protected during the winemaking that they mainly smell of a triangular combination of primary wine aromas, oak and sulphur.


I understand that it is a highly controversial statement but taking the argument a little further: We know that one can get accustomed to some aromas and learn to like them. Think of a truffle (Tuber melanosporum). Most of the aromas released by this mushroom are sulphur-compounds aromas, like dimethyl sulphide and we consider it as one of the greatest delicacy.


I am not saying that it is wrong, just that it could well be the signature of modern wine today and to be honest I liked it as I could recognise it and associate it with the top modern wines tried many times. Yet, clearly these are not the features of the wine, its varietal or its origin but purely winemaking.


On the other hand, can we make great wine without sulphur or a tiny amount that let the expression of varietal and origin speaks. Maybe but could we age it? I have my doubt, maybe we release the wines too early today and we over protect it as the wines travel the world and must age to be considered a great wine. Maybe we could push further the lines as small producers, adapting the winemaking to the country we sell it and being more explicit on the back label about the winemaking and ageing potential.


At least I have a few batches this year to try it out.

6 comments to Natural winemaking part 3

  • Georgios Hadjistylianou

    Hi Frank,

    First all the best for the 2013 vintage.

    Very good points, although how many wines do we age these days, definitely not like 10-15-20 years ago.

    “We know that one can get accustomed to some aromas and learn to like them”.
    True but once you taste several wines that there’s no So2, you start changing your mind.

    “On the other hand, can we make great wine without sulphur or a tiny amount that let the expression of varietal and origin speaks. Maybe but could we age it”?
    Frank Cornelissen’s, Salvo Foti, Mendal’s Laureano Serres, Escoda-Sanahuja, Radikon’s wines mature gracefully. I’ve tasted from these producers from 8-12 years old wines, with the exception from Laureano.

    I always see wines and compare them to us the human kind, if you have a child and keep it in the house to protect it while young then he/she will be vulnerable to diseases and will constantly need medicine, ok is not that simple but in a way wines that don’t add So2, and are kept in humid cellars at 13-14 degrees Celsius can have a future.

  • Georgios Hadjistylianou

    and I forgot
    Catherine & Pierre Breton, and Olivier Cousin, and how about Cotturi, Marcel Lapierre & Pierre Frick

    • franck

      Georgios, thank you for your comments. I shall try more of these wines. Like you I also had many poor bottles of natural wine and I heard that many producers work with a minimum of SO2 at least at bottling to avoid early spoilage. Anyway it is definitely worth experimenting further. Raül Bobet made a white called -SO2 and I enjoyed it a lot. He was adamant that it is worth doing with white although he made a tiny quantity.

  • CP

    Too early to say that no adding SO2 will be solution…
    These wines need to show how their perform in the future.. how they will age during the next 10-20-30 years, and then talk about it again.
    For sure is fantastic for wines intended to be drunk when young…
    Science is working to find already natural components from yeasts and grapes to substitute SO2, but are they are so effective???
    People is to much obsessed with sulphurs… they go to the supermarket for a Natural Wine (no SO2) and then get the basket full of food protected with 10 times more E-200 additive than any wine other traditional wine with sulphurs… It’s a combination of lack of knowledge on the topic and being trendy…
    Just my conclusion till today…
    Very good by they FrancK!!! Brilliant job you do

  • Franck Lucky we are that there are guys like you that want to try new things and new ways so be will all learn pretty much !!! Hope you solve all your “maybe” and let us enjoy a great new wine asap. Un abrazo. Eugeni

    • franck

      Thank you Eugeni for your support. It is such a long journey to sort out the maybes but also great fun and nothing better than practicing to know. If I am happy with the wine I look forward to share a bottle with you later.

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