On February 8, 2012, the EU agreed on new regulations for “Organic Wine.” Long story short, starting harvest 2012, EU winemakers will have to make certain changes in order to use the “organic wine” label, except of course for smaller winemakers who already produce wines that fit into this new category. The new rules really impact the bigger, industrial winemakers.
Is this new regulation good or bad for the real Organic winemaker? Does it actually just provide a way for the big wine industry to access a new market: Organic Wine.
The new regulations are a big step forward for organic wine – no one can ignore organic wine anymore. But the light at the end of the tunnel is still pretty far away, as the regulation will allow certain practices that many consider not in keeping with Organic wine production, such as reverse osmosis, heat treatments, hard filtrations, the use of cultivated yeasts, and high levels of sulfites (less than conventional but still pretty high). More concerning, the giants of the wine industry will now be able to reach a new market and mislead customer opinions about organic wines.
Excerpt from http://ec.europa.eu:
“So the new rules have the advantage of improved transparency and better consumer recognition. They will not only help to facilitate the internal market, but also to strengthen the position of EU organic wines at international level, since many other wine producing countries (USA, Chile, Australia, South Africa) have already established standards for organic wines. With this piece of legislation, the EU organic farming is now complete and covers all agricultural products.
Before it was: There are no EU rules or definition of “Organic wine”. Only grapes can be certified organic and only the mention “wine made from organic grapes” is currently allowed.
Now it is: The new rules on organic wine-making rules introduces a technical definition of organic wine which is consistent with the organic objective and principles as laid down in Council Regulation Organic production. The regulation identifies oenological techniques and substances to be authorized for organic wine. These include: maximum sulphite content set at 100 mg per litre for red wine (150 mg/l for conventional) and 150mg/l for white/rosé (200 mg/l for conventional), with a 30mg/l differential where the residual sugar content is more than 2g per litre.Sorbic acid and desulfurication will not be allowed and the level of sulphites in organic wine must be at least 30-50 mg per litre lower than their conventional equivalent (depending on the residual sugar content).
Other than this subset of specifications, the general wine-making rules defined in the Wine CMO regulation will also apply. As well as these wine-making practices, “organic wine” must of course also be produced using organic grapes.”
If you want to know what organic winemaker think about the new rules click here (en Francais seulement)
Check the video interview of 4 organic winemakers giving their opinion of the subject. Merci a Emmanuel, Alain, Chad et Helena.